Saturday, August 26, 2006

Putting Cats on the Pill?

Putting Cats On The Pill?
Hartford Courant Connecticut - August 26, 2006
[Excerpt]
Kerry Bartoletti's work is part observation and part science, and her success depends on whether she can tell which homeless cats will get pregnant next.

"It is such an overwhelming prospect," said Bartoletti, who helps tend more than 150 homeless felines through her organization, Friends of Feral Cheshire Cats.

Her goal is to keep the Cheshire cat population under control with neutering or spaying. But controlling the feral population is an uphill struggle: For every animal sterilized, another could be having kittens.

But Bartoletti has a new tool in her arsenal: a feline birth control pill.

The inexpensive pill - actually an off-label hormone medication designed for dogs - is intended as a stopgap measure, not a permanent answer to cat fertility or a tonic for household pets in heat.

The Westbrook-based Tait's Every Animal Matters, or TEAM, which runs a spay-neuter program, has been distributing the pills for the past 2? years to people like Bartoletti, who work against time and cats' instincts as they try to curb the feral population. TEAM sells the pills for about $50 per 500.

Its use remains limited, but the cat pill is nothing new.

And the concept - controlling animal population through contraception - stretches far beyond cats.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Feral Cat Blog! Resource:
The Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs (ACC&D)
ACC&D is an international, collaborative effort to save the lives of dogs and cats and to reduce their numbers through developing non-surgical technologies for the humane control of cat and dog populations.

Feral Cat Caretakers Coalition: Workshop

Feral Cat Caretakers Coalition - Workshop

When: Beginning September 14th - October 19th, 2006 the six week course will meet every Thursday from 7-9pm, registration beginning at 6:30pm.

Where: LAAS East Valley Animal Shelter,
13131 Sherman Way,
N. Hollywood, CA 91605

What: BECOME AN EDUCATED AND DEDICATED CARETAKER - Meet like-minded people, network and learn how to humanely care for feral/stray cats and kittens. We teach non-lethal humane methods of trap, neuter, vaccinate and return (TNVR) with special emphasis on humane return and long-term managed care! It is our mission to create understanding, tolerance and awareness of the value of TNR in our communities.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

New Keynote Speaker Added to National Feral Cat Summit

New Keynote Speaker Added to National Feral Cat Summit
Get discounted admission through September 1st

Neighborhood Cats is proud to announce that Michael Mountain, President and Co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society, has just been added as the Keynote Speaker for the 3rd Annual National Feral Cat Summit to be held on September 9th in San Francisco (for Mr. Mountain's bio, please go to : www.bestfriends.org/aboutus/staffdepartments/biommountain.cfm).

Other speakers include Paul Jolly (PETCO Foundation), Esther Mechler (SPAY USA), Bryan Kortis (Neighborhood Cats), Sandra Monterose and Debora Bresch (ASPCA), Nancy Peterson (The Humane Society of the United States),
Valerie Sicignano (IDA and Neighborhood Cats) and many more.

What: 3rd Annual National Feral Cat Summit
When: Saturday, September 9th from 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Where: South San Francisco Conference Center, 255 South Airport
Blvd., South San Francisco (directions - http://www.ssfconf.com)

Registration for the Summit is $40 before September 1st and $50 thereafter (the registration fee includes a vegan lunch).
See the complete program and register today:
http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/special/nfc_summit_2006.htm

San Francisco SPCA on Natural Areas Program

Viewpoint
A Message from The San Francisco SPCA

The San Francisco Natural Areas
Management Program and Feral Cats


The San Francisco SPCA recognizes the importance of the NAP and has expressed its support for its mission to preserve and enhance San Francisco's natural resources.
However, there are some aspects of the NAP, as currently drafted, that are antithetical to The SF/SPCA's own mission to safeguard the lives of homeless cats and dogs, and to advocate for their rights.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department
Final Draft Significant Natural Resource Areas Management Plan

See previous Feral Cat Blog! post of April 11, 2006:
scientists hail SF natural resource plan

Travis AFB feral cat removal

Federal Procurement Opportunities Database
Removal of Feral Cats, Travis Air Force Base

Exterminating and Pest Control Services


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Travis Air Force Base is located in Fairfield, California midway between Sacramento and San Francisco in northern California.

efficacy of exclusion fence designs

Abstract
The efficacy of feral cat, fox and rabbit exclusion fence designs for threatened species protection
KE MOSEBY, JL READ - Biological conservation, 2006 - cat.inist.fr

TNR is solution to stray and feral cats

Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities (UNSM) - CANADA
The Municipal Open Line - Monthly Newsletter - MAY 2006 PAGE 4
downloadable pdf file

The Solution to the Stray and Feral Cat Problem
Solution: Something that Corrects or Counteracts a Problem
By: Jill Brideau

[Excerpt, as always read the entire article]
A newly formed group, TeamTNR completed a successful pilot project in the community of Granville Ferry, Annapolis County. 54 cats living in a local barn and surrounding area were treated through the program. 20 males were neutered and 32 females were spayed. After the success of this pilot project, TeamTNR tackled another Annapolis County cat colony in Lequille. This time, they neutered 10 males and spayed 13 females. From February 16-April 7, Team TNR has spayed or neutered and returned 78 cats.

Projects like this benefit everyone, from cat lovers to the neighbours that may be irritated by cat behaviours such as fighting, spraying, caterwauling, and breeding. These behaviours have been shown to greatly diminish after spaying/neutering. In the short term, it saves government time because the programs are carried out by volunteers. In the long term, it results in substantial budgetary savings as the populations diminish and animal control services are required less frequently.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Caring for feral cats in the clinic

Veterinary Technician Journal [subscription]
August 2006
A L L T H I N G S C O N S I D E R E D
CARING FOR FERAL CATS IN THE CLINIC
Nancy Peterson, RVT
The Humane Society of the United States
Washington, DC

[Excerpts, as always read the entire article]

Although the veterinary community has played a major role in promoting and performing spaying and neutering of owned pets, services for feral cats have lagged. Feral cats and their offspring are victims of abandonment and accidental loss. Their plight is the result of pet owners allowing their cats to roam or failing to spay or neuter their cats before they produce even one litter. In 2000, the estimated number of feral cats in the United States approached 73 million. 1


CONCLUSION
It is important for veterinarians and their staff to not only learn how to work with feral cats and their caretakers but also understand why they should. It is critical that communities provide adequately funded neutering assistance programs for low-income pet owners and feral cat colony caretakers and that animal shelters sterilize pets before they are adopted. Client education and the veterinary community’s participation in TNR programs are essential to reducing the number of cats in feral colonies. By educating cat owners about the reproductive capabilities of their pets, the importance of sterilizing their cats before they produce even one litter, the need to keep their cats indoors, and the importance of providing identification for their cats, the veterinary community can greatly prevent suffering and improve the quality of life for all cats.

animal control honesty and transparency

in Maddie's Fund August newsletter:
Honesty and Transparency in Animal Control:
A Formula for Lifesaving


by Tara Derby, Chief Executive Officer,
Philadephia Animal Care and Control Association

[Excerpts - as always, read the entire article.]

A Formula for Success

While there are effective shelter directors that are dedicated to being honest and transparent, it is unfortunate that many in our industry still believe in the efficacy of "half-truths." Historically, animal sheltering professionals have been very successful at "shielding" the public from euthanasia. In fact, there are many shelters that pride themselves on the fact that they are always able to offer the public "hope of adoption." But what hope of adoption truly exists in a shelter that saves less than 50%, 40% or 30% of its animals? How likely is it that the litter of kittens surrendered in the middle of August will make it out of the shelter alive? The bottom line is that withholding the truth, making promises that cannot or will not be met, or simply lying does no one any good. It is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Eventually, the truth will be exposed, and a shelter that has been less than forthright will be perceived as incompetent, uncaring and cruel by the majority of the citizens in any community across the nation. Killing animals unnecessarily is something the public will not tolerate. Killing animals and not telling the truth about it will also not be tolerated by any community, in anywhere USA.

In order to gain community support for animal control agencies and departments, the formula for success, in terms of the big picture or the "bottom line" is simple and features a two-pronged approach:

Embrace and employ a lifesaving philosophy and programs for your agency, and establish accountability standards by which to measure your lifesaving progress.

Tell your story to the community, no matter how good or how bad your progress is. If you are doing most of the killing in your community, you should be the loudest voice in the choir.

As leaders in animal control, as leaders at any animal shelter, our job is to protect the enterprise. In animal control, this means providing public health and safety services for the citizens of our cities and towns, AND providing compassionate lifesaving services for the animals under our care. In this modern day and age, these are the fundamental components of animal control. Even if the contracting municipality or the administration refuses to pay for lifesaving endeavors, I believe we must be dedicated to implementing lifesaving programs and fighting for them because they are what the community wants, and most importantly, they are what the animals deserve. .....


..... By December 2005, PACCA achieved a 100% pre-release sterilization policy for adopted animals. We did what some would say is impossible within an 8-month period. My response is that it is nowhere near impossible to achieve this goal. First, animal control shelters have to decide it is not only a worthy goal, but a goal that must be upheld as a mandatory best practice by all those involved in the animal care and animal sheltering community.

Getting there was not easy, but how we did it was—on my first day at work, we made a commitment to achieve 100% pre-release sterilization for adopted animals. Period. There was no discussion, no explanation, and no justification as to why we wouldn't be able to achieve this goal. We simply had to do it and there was no other alternative if we were truly invested in saving lives.

Every decision made from then on—from the staff we hired, to the supplies we purchased--was couched within the context of the importance of our reaching this goal.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Population characteristics feral cats admitted to TNR programs

J Feline Med Surg. 2006 Aug;8(4):279-84.
Population characteristics of feral cats admitted to seven trap-neuter-return programs in the United States.

Wallace JL, Levy JK.

Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, PO Box 100126, Gainesville, FL 32608, USA.

Internationally, large populations of feral cats constitute an important and controversial issue due to their impact on cat overpopulation, animal welfare, public health, and the environment, and to disagreement about what are the best methods for their control. Trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs are an increasingly popular alternative to mass euthanasia. The objective of this study was to determine the population characteristics of feral cats admitted to large-scale TNR programs from geographically diverse locations in the United States. Data from 103,643 feral cats admitted to TNR programs from 1993 to 2004 were evaluated. All groups reported more intact females (53.4%) than intact males (44.3%); only 2.3% of the cats were found to be previously sterilized. Overall, 15.9% of female cats were pregnant at the time of surgery. Pregnancy was highly seasonal and peaked between March and April for all of the groups. The average prenatal litter size was 4.1+/-0.1 fetuses per litter. Cryptorchidism was observed in 1.3% of male cats admitted for sterilization. A total of 0.4% of cats was euthanased because of the presence of debilitating conditions, and 0.4% died during the TNR clinics. Remarkably similar populations of cats with comparable seasonal variability were seen at each program, despite their wide geographical distribution. These results suggest that it is feasible to safely sterilize large numbers of feral cats and that the experiences of existing programs are a consistent source of information upon which to model new TNR programs.

Outdoor fecal disposition free-roaming cats

Abstract
Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
July 1, 2006, Vol. 229, No. 1, Pages 74-81
doi: 10.2460/javma.229.1.74

Outdoor fecal deposition by free-roaming cats and attitudes of cat owners and nonowners toward stray pets, wildlife, and water pollution

Haydee A. Dabritz, BSc; E. Robert Atwill, DVM, PhD; Ian A. Gardner, BVSc, MPVM, PhD; Melissa A. Miller, DVM, PhD; Patricia A. Conrad, DVM, PhD

Wildlife Health Center, University of California, Davis, CA 95616. (Dabritz, Conrad); Veterinary Medicine and Teaching Research Center, 18830 Rd 112, Tulare, CA 93274. (Atwill); Department of Medicine and Epidemiology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616. (Gardner); California Department of Fish and Game, Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center, 1451 Shaffer Rd, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. (Miller)

Supported by the Wildlife Health Center at the University of California-Davis, the Schwall Medical Fellowship, National Science Foundation grant No. 0525765, and Morris Animal Foundation grant No. D03ZO-25.

Crystal Lake Park removes feral cats

Lake Wales Set to Begin Cleanup Project
The Ledger, Florida - August 15, 2006
[Excerpt]
Volunteers sought for effort to restore stage, nature trail at Crystal Lake Park.
LAKE WALES -- Two all-but lost features of Crystal Lake Park will be restored as part of an effort to revitalize the park between Lake Wales and Crystal Lake.
[Excerpt]
The cleanup project is also designed to eliminate the habitat for feral cats, which have become a problem in the park area. Gillis said more than 30 cats have already been trapped and turned over to Polk County Animal Control.

8th animal grantmakers conference

Eighth Annual
Animal Grantmakers Conference

Vancouver, BC Canada - November 4-7, 2006
Being held at the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue
at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC Canada

PANEL DISCUSSIONS INCLUDE:
• Alternatives in Animal Testing and Laboratory Animal Medicine
• Feral Cats and Wildlife Issues
• Animal Grantmakers Database
• Marine Mammal Protection (including Orcas)
• Bears/Great Bear Rainforest and Non-lethal Predator Management
• Animal Welfare in Canada: What's Happening?
• International Grantmaking Session and Practical Applications

Avalon renewing Trap-Neuter-Return efforts

CITY AND CIHS SEEK SUPPORT FOR FERAL CAT PROGRAM
July 26, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
[Excerpt]
CITY AND CIHS SEEK SUPPORT FOR FERAL CAT PROGRAM
Avalon, CA -- Renewed TNR Effort to Begin in August
Working in cooperation with the City of Avalon, the Catalina Island Humane Society and local veterinarian Dr. Denney, the feral and stray cat population in Avalon is managed through a trap, neuter and release (TNR) program. Through this program, in addition to effective colony management and low-cost spay and neuter services, Avalon’s feral population numbers have greatly reduced since TNR’sinception in 1999. There are currently several approved locations of managed colonies, situated away from housing and the general public, whose animals are continually diminishing due to the normal aging process. These colonies are responsible for very few, if any, new litters of kittens and generally experience a zero population growth.
Ferals and strays who find food and shelter throughout the community outside of managed colonies are the current focus of a renewed TNR effort to begin in August.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Petroglyphs: good news for feral cats

in Petroglyphs
"New Mexico’s Award-Winning Resource Publication for Animal Lovers"

downloadable pdf file: Summer 2006

Good News for Feral Cats
by Nancy Murano

[Excerpt]

In March 2006, HSUS published a new position statement on
feral cats.
“We continually evaluate our position statements and refine our
policies based on the collective expertise of our professional staff
and new scientific data or evidence provided by outside experts,”
says Nancy Peterson, Feral Cat Program Manager at HSUS. “Over
the last decade, our policies on feral cats have evolved, been revised
and updated.”
The new statement was a welcome surprise to many feral cat
organizations and individual caretakers. It says in part, “The HSUS
advocates community-based Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs
with on-going responsible management as the most viable, longterm
approach available at this time to reduce feral cat
populations….The goal of any feral cat management program should
be to maximize quality of life for the cats and to eliminate the existing
colony over time through attrition.” (Read the Position Statement
and find other resources on feral cats at: www.hsus.org/feralcats.)
“The reasons we think TNR is best today,” says Peterson, “is
because when colonies are ignored, the cats’ nuisance behaviors
continue and there will be more and more kittens. By humanely trapping
a colony, you can check which cats can be removed and adopted.
Kittens less than seven weeks of age can be removed, as can friendly
stray cats who have moved into the colony to survive. This reduces
the population, leaving only the truly feral.”
The position statement further recognizes that feral cat management
is a community affair. “…this statement is meant to encourage
all members of the community – citizens, veterinarians, animal shelters,
wildlife advocates, policy makers, public health departments,
businesses – to work together toward a goal of non-lethal approaches
to feral cat management.”
“We want to encourage shelters to work with feral caretakers in
the community. We need city officials embracing this and providing
more funds for spay and neuter. They also need to exempt feral cat
caretakers from ordinances on feeding bans, pet limit restrictions,
and roaming cat restrictions,” Peterson says.
Feral cat caretakers often feel vilified because they get little or no
support from their communities. They try to do the humane thing for
cats living on the fringe of society and consequently they are classified
as being on the fringe, too. Too often they see their care of a
colony ruined because of a nuisance complaint that causes animal
control to trap the cats and euthanize them.

[Closing paragraph]
Times are changing for feral cats and the people who care for them
so diligently. Instead of being relegated to the edges of society and
the city’s back allies, feral cats are grabbing the national spotlight.
With cooperation from all elements of the community feral cat colonies
can be managed to benefit the cats and the community.

future of no-kill: regime change

No Kill Solutions / No Kill Advocacy Center
What’s New
July/August 2006
A Call for Regime Change
It is has been twelve years since San Francisco became the first city to end the killing of healthy dogs and cats. The programs and services which made this possible are the same programs and services that allowed Tompkins County (NY) to achieve No Kill in 2002. Following the same model, Charlottesville, VA saved 87% of dogs and 67% of cats last year and pledged to do better this year—to date, over 90% of dogs are finding homes; while the City of Philadelphia went from killing nearly 9 out of 10 dogs and cats to a fraction of that.
These communities achieved or are achieving success because of rigorous implementation of the key programs and services outlined in the U.S. No Kill Declaration.
To the extent a shelter isn’t implementing this model, animals are needlessly being killed. And because No Kill advocates must represent the interests of the animals, they must first demand these programs, and then fight for them. But throughout the United States right now, there is a major roadblock to this occurring. The roadblock is the old guard of shelter directors who will not implement these No Kill solutions because they are content with the status quo. They have accepted killing even in the face of lifesaving alternatives. No amount of excuses can change the simple fact that the biggest barrier to No Kill success in any given community is often a single person. Who runs animal control or the large private shelter in a community can make—or break—No Kill success. So the first order of business is regime change.
Why is killing still occurring at rates in excess of 50%, 60%, 70% or higher in almost every single community in the United States ? Is it because there are too many animals? Is it because there are not enough homes? Is it because of irresponsible people? Is it because we don't have enough mandatory laws like cat licensing? Is it because the animals aren't adoptable? We have been conditioned to believe those are the reasons.
But most are being killed for one reason—failure. A failure to learn from the past. A failure to implement the programs and services that save lives. A failure of caring. The buck stops with the shelter's director.
Many shelters are not sterilizing animals before adoption or providing the public with affordable alternatives. Some do not have a foster care program, nor do they work with or socialize dogs with behavior problems. Still others do not take animals offsite for adoption, have not developed partnerships with rescue groups, limit volunteerism, and still retain adoption hours that make it difficult for working people or families to visit the shelter, the very people they should be courting to adopt the animals in their care. Or they do not implement Trap-Neuter-Return programs for feral cats.
These shelters continue to ignore their own culpability in the level of killing, while professing to lament the continued killing as entirely the fault of the public’s failure to spay/neuter or to make lifetime commitments to their animals. When you deny any responsibility for the killing, the impetus to change your own behavior which might impact that killing disappears.
In Missouri , a shelter run under the auspices of the county health department is filthy and teeming with cockroaches, flies and fecal matter. These same conditions in someone's home would cause the health department to issue citations but there is apparently no contradiction when it is their own facility. In Georgia , a rural shelter overseen by the chief law enforcement official in the county turns a blind eye to cruelty and neglect that results in animals unnecessary dying in the shelter. In California , a humane officer unnecessarily beats a dog repeatedly with a baton until there is blood all over the cage. The officer remains employed. And despite unnecessary high rates of shelter killing, leadership is satisfied with the job their agency is doing in animal control. In a New York shelter, over eight out of ten cat cages are kept empty during the busy summer season to reduce staff workload, while the vast majority of cats are killed—some ostensibly “for space.” In Maryland , a dog sits in a kennel for days with a broken leg with no care or treatment of any kind. While in a Florida shelter, a mother dog unable to nurse due to poor nutrition watches her puppies die of starvation and dehydration, while shelter staff walk by oblivious to their condition.
But the uncaring need not be so blatant. A shelter may be clean, it may have competent staff, and it may have good customer service. But if the shelter director does not implement a foster care program, he or she is needlessly killing animals and has tacitly accepted that it is more convenient to do so. If a shelter director does not have a TNR program, he or she has decreed that feral cats can and should be killed. If a shelter director does not take animals offsite for adoption, he or she is accepting a body count associated with failure to do so.
And that takes us to perhaps the most important element of the programs and services that make up the No Kill Equation (See No Kill Sheltering, Vol. I Issue 4, July/August 2006). The first step to success is often the hardest one of all—a hard working, compassionate animal control or shelter director not content to regurgitate tired clichés or hide behind the myth of “too many animals, not enough homes.” Unfortunately, this one is also oftentimes the hardest one to demand and find. But find him or her we must. Because the public wants No Kill, the animals deserve it and if it requires regime change to get it, then we must fight for that too.
The Dark Side of Collaboration
So why are activists putting aside blame and focusing instead on collaboration with these very directors? Unfortunately, they cling to the erroneous view that collaboration is the key to No Kill success. But it is not. A community which implements each and every program and service of the No Kill Equation comprehensively will succeed. Those who focus on collaboration instead will fail so long as the director(s) of the community’s major shelters are not committed to the No Kill paradigm.
While the job is certainly made easier if all parties are willing to work together, collaboration only works when animal control or private shelters are dedicated to the No Kill endeavor. If they are not, a focus on collaboration can actually delay lifesaving efforts or even doom them altogether. In such cases, the effort at coalition building detracts from the real impediment to saving lives: reforming the animal shelter or regime change within those agencies that continue to cling to outdated models of sheltering.
In fact, there is not a single community in the United States where collaboration has actually led to No Kill success. If collaboration is so important, why hasn't it created No Kill? It has utterly failed and will continue to fail for the simple reason that while the large national organizations like the Humane Society of the United States continue to push the idea that all humane societies and animal control agencies are interested in the same goals, the facts frequently tell a different story—one of intransigent, reactionary policies that cause animals to needlessly die even in the face of lifesaving alternatives as demonstrated by No Kill success in progressive communities nationwide. Programs and services such as Trap-Neuter-Return for feral cats, foster care for sick, injured, unweaned or traumatized animals, and working with rescue groups.
We have known for over a decade that if No Kill is going to be achieved, shelters must put in place these key programs that have proved successful at saving lives. Why are some shelters still killing rather than sterilizing feral cats? Why do shelters still refuse to work with rescue groups? Why do they continue to keep volunteers out? This is the status quo in many communities throughout the United States and it begs the question of why animal activists—despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary—continue to believe that collaboration is the key to No Kill Success?
The Future of No Kill
Whether we realize it or not, whether we appreciate it or not, whether we believe it or not, as history marches toward greater compassion for our four legged companions, No Kill’s conquest of the status quo is inevitable. But we are wasting precious time and energy trying to rehabilitate animal control directors who do not want to change. And, consequently, an opportunity will be lost to speed that process along. The price to be paid for our refusal to seize this opportunity will be the lives of millions of dogs and cats needlessly killed in shelters next year. And the year after that. And the year after that.
We have a choice. We can fully, completely and without reservation embrace No Kill as our future. Or we can continue to legitimize the two-prong strategy of failure: adopt a few and kill the rest. It is a choice which history has thrown upon us. We are the generation that questioned the killing. We are the generation that has discovered how to stop it. Will we be the generation that does? Only if we are willing to demand leadership changes in our local shelters when they have failed to get the job done. We must hold shelter directors accountable for failures that are theirs, and no one else’s.
The most important question we can ask ourselves as animal lovers who want to end the killing in our communities is this: Is the animal control shelter and/or large private humane society in my community rigorously implementing each and every program of the No Kill equation?
If the answer is “No”—as it is in all but a small handful of communities nationwide—the next step becomes increasingly apparent. Because there is simply no excuse for continued delay. Delay means unnecessary killing. And no amount of collaboration with directors who have not felt the internal compulsion to implement these programs on their own accord will change that fact. It is time to replace them with compassionate ones who will. It is time for widespread regime change in shelters across the country.
The future of No Kill depends on it.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Grit Mag: take care of barn cats

Your Best Friend in the Barn
Livestock/Companion Animals
Take Care of Your Barn Cats and They'll More than Earn Their Keep
from the September/October issue of Grit.
Grit Magazine - August 11, 2006
By: Jon Geller, DVM

[Excerpts]
Rodents will wreak havoc in barns.

Proactive farmers will want to eradicate rodents from the barn. Rat poisons, typically made of anticoagulant that causes a delayed bleeding response, or a newer generation neurotoxin, are widely used to kill rodents. The problem is, other animals also love the taste of these poisons.

Enter the barn cat, stage (or stall) left.
Cats will hunt and kill mice, and occasionally eat them. Many of the squirming little parasites that live in rodents will now take residency in this new host. In their role as hunter and protector of the barn, these cats are susceptible to some serious health risks. Outdoor cats typically live less than half as long as indoor cats. Barn cat owners are charged with providing their feline friends with the latest in preventive health care. The old farming adage holds: Take care of your animals and they will take care of you.
Following is most everything you'll want to know about caring for your barn cat:
Initial and Ongoing Preventive Care (see “Preventive Health Care Plan")

Carson City needs non-lethal cat management

Carson City - candidate for Trap-Neuter=RETURN-Manage (TNRM) for unowned cats and spay/neuter, identification, and containment where possible for owned cats.

Wild critters have it good this year
Nevada Appeal, Nevada - August 12, 2006
[Excerpt]
"This is when wild and domestic animals are loose," said Pat Wiggins, Carson City's animal services supervisor. "We're busy."Animal control officers pick up 20 feral cats a day alone. They also find a lot of raccoons, skunks and other wild critters, as well as escaped and abandoned house pets."People call us first," Wiggins said. "We deal with domestic animals, but if we can help with a wildlife call we try to do that."
[Excerpt]
Jack Spencer Jr., a supervisory wildlife biologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Wildlife Service, also said Nevada has the nation's most fragile ecosystem because water usually is so scarce. When there is an abundance of water, the prey animals have a better chance of surviving because they don't have to travel as far to get to water sources, he said.

Feral Cats a Concern for Oahu

Feral Cats a Concern for Oahu
KHNL-TV/KHBC/KOGG, Hawaii - Aug 11, 2006
by Stephen Florino

(KHNL) - Construction at a new car dearlership in Kalihi is forcing one woman to look for new homes for some tenants that'll be displaced.

"This has been their home for many, many years," said Aja Millage. "Now it's gonna be taken away from them."

Millage takes the handivan from her home in Mililani twice a week to Kalihi Shopping Center to care for those tenants -- a dozen cats.

"It seems like the homeless cats, they really don't have anybody to take care of them unless someone just happens to come by and see the need," she said.

Millage first came by in 1985, and saw another woman caring for the cats. She offered to help, and has been coming back every week since then.

But the shopping center -- once home to Sav Mor Drugs, Kalihi Bowl, and dozens of cats -- is scheduled to be torn down September 1st, for construction.

Up to 34 cats have called the garden home, but 12 remain.

Millage wants to find them new homes. She doesn't want to turn the cats into the humane society, because she's afraid they'll be found "not adoptable."

And Millage says she can't take them in herself, because she's already got seven cats at home.

She's gotten them spayed or neutered, to make them more appealing to owners. Seven are already spoken for, leaving five still roaming the garden.

"They're all gonna have to be moved and it's gonna be kinda difficult to say goodbye to them because they're all going to different places and it's like an end of an era," she said.

But it'll hopefully be the beginning of a new one.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Maxfund helps 40-plus cats and kittens

No-Kill Denver Shelter Provides Saves For More Than 40 Kittens
TheDenverChannel.com, Colorado - August 10, 2006
Maxfund Takes Felines From Overcrowded Shelter

DENVER -- More than 40 kittens and cats from Wyoming have been saved by the Maxfund, a Denver no-kill animal shelter.

The cats and kittens arrived at Maxfund late Thursday afternoon from a Cheyenne shelter that was faced with a serious overcrowding issue. Rather than euthanize the cats and kittens, Maxfund stepped in to help. Now, the kitten and cats need homes of their own.

The kittens range in ages from 10 days old to 6 months old. The infant kittens are still being fed by their mothers.


In a plea to their volunteers, Maxfund was able to find more than 20 foster families willing to look after the kittens until they are adopted.

The kittens are now available for adoption.

Maxfund said for a limited time, it is reducing its cat adoption fee to $50. The fee includes all vaccinations except rabies, spaying or neutering, and microchipping.

For more information on the Maxfund no-kill shelter or to learn how to adopt a cat or kitten, visit www.maxfund.org.

Volusia council OKs survey of Intracoastal islands

Volusia council OKs survey of Intracoastal islands
Daytona Beach News-Journal, Florida - August 11, 2006
By JAMES MILLER, Staff Writer
[Excerpted]
DELAND -- Volusia County sailed forward Thursday with a survey of islands in Halifax River and Mosquito Lagoon to find out things like which are good for camping and which are overrun by bird-thwarting plants.

The surveys, to begin in spring, will catalog animals and plants on natural and spoil islands, created by navigational dredging in the 1950s and 1960s, said Stephen Kintner, the county's environmental manager.

"We don't even know how many there are," he said, adding officials think there are well more than 100.

The work, approved by the County Council at its meeting in DeLand, will cost almost $60,000, funded with grant money and in-kind matches from staff and volunteer hours. The project has environmentalists smiling.

"Being in the environmental community, we typically come to the County Council to complain about something that's about to be done or has been done," said David Hartgrove, conservation chairman of the Halifax River Audubon Society. "It's nice to be able to come here and talk about something positive."

The goal is to classify islands into recreation and conservation categories. On active recreation islands, such things as docks and bathrooms could be built. Nothing would be built on passive islands. Public use of conservation islands would be discouraged.

The survey will identify islands infested with Brazilian peppers or inhabited by feral cats so both can later be removed. Getting rid of Brazilian peppers and some other species would help provide nesting areas for some birds listed as species of special concern, Hartgrove said. The cats also pose a threat to the birds.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Council promises PB Cats $100,000

Council promises PB Cats $100,000
Palm Beach Daily News, Florida - August 10, 2006
By William Kelly, Daily News Staff Writer


The Town Council pledged an additional $100,000 Tuesday to help revive the financially struggling PB Cats feral cat management program.

But council members made it clear they expect PB Cats, a nonprofit, trap-neuter-release program that operates with a mix of public and private money, to boost fund-raising efforts and improve bookkeeping.

The appropriation follows a town staff report that found that PB Cats is severely underfunded, and suffers from poor accounting practices and inadequate fund-raising. Half the money will be given now, and the other half provided after Jan. 1 provided PB Cats meets certain performance goals.

After giving PB Cats $50,000 for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, the council in July authorized $20,000 more to cover veterinary bills after PB Cats ran out of money. But the organization said it needs more money to keep feeding the cats.

"If we don't fund this program correctly, we have doomed it to failure," Councilman Richard Kleid said.

Gertrude Maxwell, founder of Save-a-Pet, promised that her organization will give $20,000 annually to help bolster PB Cats.

She pleaded with the council not to use euthanasia to reduce the number of the cats on streets such as Kawama Lane, where some residents have complained the animals continue to be a nuisance three years after PB Cats was formed to bring the feral-cat population under control.

The council held off on consideration of euthanasia or relocating cats to a sanctuary — an option that would cost up to $565 per cat — until a revamped PB Cats has more time to show more progress.

Tuesday's appropriation included $50,000 for this fiscal year and $50,000 for the 2006-07 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. That is on top of another $50,000 already budgeted to PB Cats for 2006-07.

PB Cats reported a total budget of $135,000 in 2005, including $80,000 from the town and the remainder from a fundraising event, donations and grants. Assistant Town Manager Sarah Hannah recently said the program needs about $200,000 a year, plus overhead expenses for an office and shelter. Hannah proposed Tuesday the council fund PB Cats in three increments during the next fiscal year and tie the funds to performance benchmarks in which it would create a new board of directors, hire an administrative director, create a large fundraising event, produce professional quarterly financial reports and more. Of the $100,000 appropriated Tuesday, $50,000 is tied to the organization's ability to meet some of the performance goals by Jan. 1.

Councilwoman Susan Markin said she has agreed to join a new board of directors for PB Cats and has identified other residents willing to serve and make financial contributions to the organization.

Also Tuesday, the council tentatively approved new ordinances designed to help control the cat population.

The council unanimously approved measures requiring all cats older than four months to be microchipped or collared, and requiring that all cats allowed by their owners to roam outdoors be spayed or neutered.

There are 279 known feral cats in town, Allen Mason president of PB Cats' board of directors, said earlier.

Another law, tentatively approved by a 4-1 vote, with Markin opposed, will reduce the number of domestic animals allowed in each household from 10 to seven.

In an effort to prevent the feeding of pigeons on Root Trail — another source of residents' complaints — the council voted unanimously to authorize an ordinance that will make it unlawful for anyone other than PB Cats to leave food for animals in the streets or public rights of way. PB Cats would be exempt because it is a town-sanctioned program, Town Manager Peter Elwell said.

Another vote will be necessary to adopt those ordinances.

In other news Tuesday, the council:

? Voted 3-1, with Councilman Bill Brooks opposed and Councilman Allen Wyett absent from the vote, not to review the Town Charter before 2010, when one is called for by the town's strategic plan. Brooks wanted the council to consider changes earlier, including at-large elections for council seats, setting term limits of perhaps 10 years, and rotating the council presidency. But Markin and Kleid said the council faces too many other issues for it to justify an early review.

? Decided to proceed with a Feb. 7 referendum on burial of power, cable and phone lines even though the town doesn't expect to have an answer by then on whether the state Public Service Commission will approve Florida Power & Light's proposed 25 percent financial credit toward the costs.

Council President Denis Coleman urged the council not to put a bond issue before voters until it knows more about the cost of the initiative, estimated at around $50 million. Coleman said he could support a "straw ballot" — a legally nonbinding question to get a sense of whether voters support underground utilities.

The council has been studying the issue for nearly four years and needs to get moving, Brooks and Wyett said.

"My fear is that if this council fails to get this referendum on the February ballot, we will become known as the do-nothing council," Wyett said.

The council decided to ask the commission to delay an October hearing on the issue of FPL's 25 percent offer until after a consortium of municipalities interested in utility burial, including Palm Beach, completes a cost and feasibility study in November.

? Voted unanimously to proceed with plans to provide additional street lighting in the North End even if voters reject utility line burial. The street lighting project is planned to occur in conjunction with that project to save costs and minimize disruption. The town will survey North End residents to determine how many want lighting on their streets.

? Told the town staff to develop a plan to remove derelict and abandoned vessels along the sea wall facing the Intracoastal Waterway.

? Agreed to seek volunteers to represent Palm Beach at meetings of other government agencies whose actions may the town.

? Referred to the Planning and Zoning Commission, for study next season, Brooks' proposal that the town create a board or use a special master to hear requests for variances and special exceptions. That would free the council to focus more on broad public policy questions and reduce the length of council meetings, Brooks said.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Previous Feral Cat Blog! posts on
cats in Palm Beach Florida

new director for ARF

Animal rescue group names new top dog
Contra Costa Times, California - August 10, 2006
[Excerpt]
Elena Bicker has been promoted from marketing director to executive director of the pet adoption organization, a $4-million-a-year nonprofit group based in Walnut Creek, ARF officials announced this week.

Bicker started out in 1993 as a volunteer with the foundation.

Now she takes over day-to-day operation of a group trying to increase cat and dog adoptions, raise $3 million to pay off its new shelter, and expand its people and pet interaction programs aimed at getting America to no longer tolerate the euthanizing of homeless cats and dogs.

[Excerpt]
ARF, created in 1991 by the professional baseball manager, rescues cats and dogs on death row at overcrowded, public shelters.

When its shelter opened in 2003, ARF got most of its animals from shelters outside Contra Costa County, much to the dismay of some animal advocates.

Bicker said ARF now gets most of its cats from Contra Costa County.

ARF's board last month adopted long-term plans to create a program to trap, sterilize and return feral cats to the wild.

Before it can take on a big new task like that, however, the foundation must first concentrate on paying off the $3 million in remaining debt for its $16 million, no-kill shelter in Walnut Creek, Bicker said.

The animal foundation has set out on a campaign to raise $1.5 from corporate sponsors, longtime ARF donors and others. Then ARF will roll out a public campaign to match new contributions dollar per dollar.

Information about ARF is available at its Web site: www.arf.net/.

who decides too many pets?

How many pets are too many pets? Who decides?
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Pennsylvania - August 10, 2006
[Excerpts - always read entire article]
What's the right number of pet cats and who gets to decide?


When cats live indoors full time, outsiders can't tell how many cats are being kept in a house or apartment, until there's a knock at the door.
Eleanor Clifford answered the knock in May and let humane agents from the Animal Friends shelter enter her two-bedroom, two-story row house in Garfield.


How many pets does Ms. Clifford have? She admits to having three dogs, but declines to give Animal Friends an exact total of the cats. In court, she produced veterinary care records for 25 cats. All of her pets, she testified, are spayed, neutered and up to date on shots.


Last year, a neighbor called Animal Friends, complaining .....


Ms. Clifford lives in Pittsburgh, where there is a five-pet limit, but she's not charged with violating that law.
She went to court with a copy of a 1994 Commonwealth Court ruling that struck down pet limits in Pennsylvania. The mere ownership of a specific number of animals does not constitute an illegal nuisance, the appellate court ruled in the case of a Carnegie woman who had 25 cats.
That ruling does not prevent officials from prosecuting pet owners for health, safety and cruelty violations.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For more on Pet Limit laws, see
Cat Management in Communities.

Cats and Birds and Dogs on the Beach

Cats and Birds and Dogs on the Beach: A Deadly Combination
US Fish and Wildlife Service, April 2006
[Excerpt]
An unfair fight
Cats are natural hunters, and even wellfed cats chase and kill birds. Beach-dwelling birds are not adapted to co-exist with cats. Each year in this country, hundreds of millions of birds meet death in the claws of cats. Cats kill roughly 39 million birds annually in Wisconsin alone, according to a 1996 study.

This recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service publication was produced for the Northeast Region, US Fish and Wildlife Service specific to ongoing federal protection efforts for the piping plover. As with the updated website and publications of Cats Indoors! , misleading and unscientific statements continue to be published such as the above regarding the Wisconsin study.

Millions of cat and feral cat advocates take action daily via Trap-Neuter-RETURN-Manage (TNRM) to reduce homeless cat numbers, prevent cat reproduction, minimize health risks from cats, reduce cat nuisance complaints. Most pay for this community service and compassionate act out of their own pockets.

It is difficult to fathom the individual and institutionalized reasoning or desire to save one species such as birds by killing another species such as cats.

Here's the subject downloadable pdf file:
http://www.fws.gov/northeast/pdf/CatsEat.pdf

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

See previous Feral Cat Blog! post:

effects free-ranging cats on birds Wisconsin
Saturday, April 08, 2006
The Effects of Free-ranging Cats on Birds in Wisconsin: Wisconsin
Bird Conservation Initiative Issues and Guidelines

C.A. Lepczyk, S. Diehl, N. Cutright, K. Etter Hale, W.
Mueller, J. Trick
January 2006 paper

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Feral Cat Blog! Note: See also
*
Feral Cat Predation and It’s Effect on Wildlife - Searching for the Truth
*
Addressing “The Wisconsin Study”
both from
StrayPetAdvocacy.org

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

some feral cat news 08-09-06

Group helps feral cats
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, New York - August 9, 2006
Jamie Germano
(August 9, 2006) — Habitat for Cats Inc. began in 1999 to help control the skyrocketing population of feral and homeless cats in Monroe County.The volunteer group of 42 members traps, then spays or neuters the cats, returning them to the area they were trapped.
The group tries to find homes for any kittens it traps.Veterinarian Mary Dyroff of Webster volunteers her time performing the procedures every Wednesday on any trapped cats.
Diane DeGravio of Webster is president of the group and helps in the trapping process.Since May 2005, the group has spayed or neutered more than 900 cats.
National statistics show that two uncontrolled breeding cats will produce 2,201 cats in a four-year period. That number swells to more than 73,000 over six years.


Palm Beach reviving feral cat plan
Palm Beach Post Florida - August 9, 2006
By Tim O'Meilia
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
PALM BEACH — Two things Palm Beachers don't want in town — yowling, unfixed feral cats and growling, unfilled Palm Tran buses north of Publix.
They don't like them so much that the town council Tuesday voted to spend $150,000 to resuscitate a nonprofit feral cat management program and asked Palm Tran to cut nearly half its routes to the north end of town.
"Our residents aren't happy with these buses," said Councilwoman Susan Markin, who was also unhappy that Palm Tran publishes maps "advertising our Publix, which as far as we're concerned is for our residents."
Palm Tran surveys shows an average of 21 riders per hour on its three morning and four evening trips on Route 41 from West Palm Beach across the Royal Park Bridge and north to the Lake Worth Inlet. But fewer than half of the passengers travel north of the Publix on Sunset Avenue in midtown.
Route 42 through the south end of town averages only seven passengers per hour, the second-lowest of all routes in the county, and is likely to be cut in the fall.
Councilman Allen Wyett suggested residents could pick up their domestic help at midtown. Councilman Bill Brooks proposed that Palm Tran use vans.
"We'll supply the vans, you supply the driver," Council President Denis Coleman told Palm Tran officials.
Palm Tran Executive Director Chuck Cohen said the agency could consider eliminating one of the morning and two evening trips, leaving two in the morning and two in the evening. Palm Beach routes were cut in half two years ago.
The council unanimously asked that Palm Tran consider eliminating service north of Publix or reduce the trips to one in the morning and one in the evening. They also asked that stops be removed from Seminole Avenue.
As for the feral cats, the council backed away from discussions of exporting the cats out of town because of the cost and of euthanasia.
Well-known animal rights supporter Gertrude Maxwell, founder of Sav-A-Pet, said she opposes euthanasia but would contribute $20,000 to the trap-neuter-release program that is foundering.
"Private donations will dry up if you resort to euthanasia and relocation," warned resident Vicki Hunt, who has agreed to become a board member for PB Cats Inc., the nonprofit group struggling for money. Markin will also serve on the board.
The $175,000 will be doled out in three increments, but the council wants the group to put a new board in place, hire an administrative head, a field manager and four part-time feeders. Now, the agency runs with a manager and two feeders.
PB Cats must also do more fund-raising ($40,000 last year) and have better bookkeeping. The council will reevaluate the program in January.
"I have a solution for the feral cats," said Seminole Road resident Herbert Hoffman last month. "Put them on the Palm Tran buses. You'll never see them again."


Council panel kills animal trap lending plan
Bangor Daily News, Maine - Aug 8, 2006
BANGOR - After taking another look at the issue, city officials decided Monday that they really did not want to get into the live animal trap lending business.Monday's discussion was a follow-up to a City Council subcommittee's decision last fall to authorize the purchase of up to 10 such traps for use by residents.Councilors were looking at a lending policy for the traps when they decided against making the traps available at all. Though authorized, the purchase of traps had not occurred."I don't think the city wants to be in charge of trapping any animal," Councilor Susan Hawes, who chaired the meeting, said.Councilor Geoffrey Gratwick said he arrived at the meeting prepared to support the program, largely because of what woodchucks have done to his garden. He instead decided to oppose it after hearing more about the pros and cons, in particular the strain it would put on the city's already strapped police and animal control personnel."It may not be an issue we want to be involved in," Gratwick said. "The city has limits on what it can do for people."Resident Kenneth Buckley, who came to City Hall to oppose the traps, said it appeared to him that the city's feral cat problem had been exaggerated and that making the traps available to the general public would lead to "vigilante catnapping."Asked for his take on the matter, Police Chief Don Winslow recommended against it."Obviously, the police department has plenty to do," Winslow said, adding that the animal control division also was busy."Are we going to be everything to everybody?" Winslow echoed Councilor Gerry Palmer's concerns about the traps leading to neighborhood disputes. He also was worried about what people would do once they actually caught animals."There's no guarantee that people are going to do what they are supposed to do when they trap an animal, and I'm not sure we want to be part of that," he said.The council's finance committee agreed to buy the traps last fall in response to a resident's complaints about feral cats, though the traps also could be used to catch skunks, woodchucks and other animals.After reviewing several options for dealing with the city's stray cats last fall, the council's finance committee authorized the purchase of up to 10 live animal traps for use by residents. While the traps, which cost about $60 each, would not have helped reduce Bangor's feral cat population, they were the least costly of three alternatives city officials weighed in response to the resident's concern about homeless felines.The other options called for encouraging residents to trap and transport feral cats, immunizing and spaying or neutering those animals young enough to be domesticated and euthanizing the rest, at a cost of almost $50,000 a year. Another option, which would have added at least $148,260 to the city budget, called for managed colonies of wild cats. This would have required that the cats be caught, given health screenings and immunized and spayed or neutered if not diseased. Diseased cats would be euthanized


Enlist volunteers to curb feral cat population
Roanoke Times, Virginia - Aug 6, 2006
I have volunteered at the Roanoke's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for more than a year. It does not euthanize animals as was reported in the July 27 news article, "Feral cats: Rubbing people the wrong way?"
The Animal Control Shelter next door to the SPCA does. The SPCA Adoption Center saves many animals from death by transferring adoptable animals from the ACS.
They are fixed, vaccinated and examined by the staff vet and available for adoption until they find a good home.
Feral cats and stray dogs are a symptom of irresponsible owners .
Roanoke's animal control officer Mike Quesenberry is right. An aggressive public education program is key so that the public knows low-cost spay/neuter clinics like Angels of Assisi exist and are affordable.
An aggressive spay/neuter program will drastically reduce the number of unwanted kittens. Enlisting the expertise and help of area feral cat rescuers should also be considered.
I never heard about the committee to resolve this problem.
Aggressive public service announcements on the radio, TV and in the newspaper would generate a number of concerned animal lovers who want to help. Where do I sign up?
Paula Anselmo
Roanoke

Monday, August 07, 2006

National Feral Cat Summit admission price extended

From Neighborhood Cats

National Feral Cat Summit:
$40. Admission Price Extended!
Scholarships Available for Veterinarians and Vet Techs!
September 9, 2006, 9:30 am - 5:30 pm
South San Francisco Conference Center
South San Francisco, CA

Extra space has become available (so we are able to sell more tickets) and are keeping the admission price at $40. through Sept. 1st (the price will go up to $50. on Sept. 2nd)! Tickets are going quickly so book now to ensure your spot at the Summit.

A limited number of Scholarships (free tickets) are available for Veterinarians and Vet Techs. Vets and Vet Techs should contact us directly if they would like a free ticket. Contact: summit@neighborhoodcats.org

The 3rd Annual "National Feral Cat Summit" is scheduled to take place in San Francisco on Sat. Sept. 9th, 2006. Daniel Crain, President of the San Francisco SPCA will present the Keynote Addess. Workshops include "Advanced Feral Cat Colony Care," "Funding TNR," "How to Perform a Mass Trapping (Film &Workshop)" and Feral Cats, TNR and the Law," among others. Speakers include Paul Jolly, the PETCO Foundation, Esther Mechler, SPAY USA, Bryan Kortis, Neighborhood Cats, Sandra Monterose and Debora Bresch, the ASPCA, Nancy Peterson, The Humane Society of the United States and Valerie Sicignano, In Defense of Animals and Neighborhood Cats.

$40. per person admission price extended to Sept. 1st (price goes up to $50. on Sept. 2nd). Admission includes a hot vegan lunch. To view the complete event program and order tickets, go to:
http://www.neighborhoodcats.org/special/nfc_summit_2006.htm

Cage Hemingway's cats?!

Backstory: Cage Hemingway's cats?!
Christian Science Monitor, MA - August 7, 2006
Feds say farewell to free-range felines at Key West museum, designating them an 'exhibit.'
By Richard Luscombe Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

KEY WEST, FLA. – Charlie Chaplin saves his best performances for the tourists' cameras. Ava Gardner is known to be a bit of a prima donna. And reports of Mark Twain's demise have been exaggerated, though he's a little older these days and requires help shaving.
Stroll the grounds of the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in the heart of Key West and it's not uncommon to find film stars from the golden era rubbing around your legs or dozing peacefully on Papa's old bed. These are the famous six-toed cats - descendants of the author's own beloved pet, Snowball. And they're now the center of a dispute that has set the fur flying between the museum's owners and the US Department of Agriculture.
With Trevor Howard, a black-and-white furball sprawled and snoring at his feet in an air-conditioned office, museum chief executive Mike Morawski explains that government bureaucracy threatens to curtail the languorous, feline idyll.
Under the section of the Animal Welfare Act that deals with "animal exhibitors," the USDA has determined that the 46 resident free-range felines are display animals like those in a zoo, and must be caged.
And Mr. Morawski has taken the USDA to court, asking a federal judge in Miami whether Hemingway's cats must be licensed under the Act. "It's absolutely ludicrous. We are the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum telling people about his house and property. The cats just live here. And if we are an exhibitor, why in the world does our one-acre site, surrounded by a six-foot wall, not serve as containment? We need clarity."
It's perfectly clear, says USDA spokesman Jim Rogers, "It doesn't matter if you have an elephant in your yard if you keep it as a pet, but if you are exhibiting an animal, whether or not you are charging money, then you need a license."
Why now, 42 years after the museum - with cats - started operating?
The USDA cites a 2003 complaint that cats were leaving the grounds and creating a neighborhood nuisance. While the agency won't name the source of the complaint, some fingers point to the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, whose president, Gwen Hawtof, admits to "interactions" with the museum about roaming cats.
After three years of discussion between the museum and USDA, Morawski says he fulfilled every recommendation from inspectors, including placing an angled fence atop the perimeter wall, but the agency still refused to issue a license. So he sued.
Anything to do with constriction of free will - animal or human - always raises emotion in this independent outpost. This city hired an official "rooster catcher" two years ago to deal with more than 2,000 problem chickens running free through town. But the rooster catcher resigned within six months, complaining of abuse from a fowl-friendly public. Citizens of the Conch Republic, as residents of the Florida Keys like to call themselves following a brief but well-publicized mock secession from the US in 1982 over immigration checkpoints, also take a dim view of federal government muscling in on local affairs.
"You'd think the city has bigger problems than this to deal with," says Tom Coward, owner of the Andrews Inn guesthouse that borders the Hemingway museum. "We certainly didn't complain about the cats. In fact, I miss them coming into the garden since the museum put the fence up. They're not a nuisance, they're neutered and they're well cared for."
The claws may be out in a legal sense. But for the mild-mannered cats used to sleeping the days away, minding their own business in the heat of the Florida summer, life continues pretty much as normal. Mornings bring scores of cruise passengers speeding around the house and grounds, learning in bite-sized chunks about Hemingway's 30 years in America's southernmost town and the history of some of the famous novels that he wrote there, including "To Have and Have Not" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls." In the afternoons, tourists with no ships to race back to take a more leisurely pace.
"A lot of the adults are, frankly, more interested in the cats than they are in Hemingway," says "Boston" Bob Smith, a guide at the Whitehead Street museum, which opened three years after the author committed suicide in 1961 and has been the island's most popular tourist attraction since. "People come in and they don't know who Hemingway was. They ask what year was he the president."
The cats' popularity is evident in the busy gift shop, where visitors step over snoozing animals to strip the shelves of cat-themed Christmas baubles, leather bookmarks, decorative wall tiles, and even nail files.
"The cats are a very big deal," says Boston Bob as he leads a tour through the garden past the animals' drinking fountain, a former urinal from Hemingway's favorite Key West bar, Sloppy Joe's. "They all have their own style and character."
The felines also have a VIP following in President Jimmy Carter and his daughter, Amy. What the framed letter from the White House on the living room wall doesn't tell you, but Morawski will, is that when the former first family took a vacation in the Florida Keys in the 1970s, Amy spent an extra 2-1/2 hours petting the cats after her father had returned to his hotel. "She fell in love," Morawski says.
About half the cats at the museum are polydactyls, or 'mitten' cats, meaning they have an extra toe on their front paws. Some have an extra on their back paws, too. It is a result of inbreeding, and originated in New England. The animals were popular as shipboard mousers, and Stanley Dexter, a ship captain, gave Snowball as a gift to Hemingway in the 1930s.
The current "lord of the manor," notes guide Dave Horowitz, is Archibald MacLeish, a fluffy ginger male who spends his winters trying to keep the other cats out of "his" house.
"He's very elegant but very territorial," Horowitz says. "He's in the master bedroom from October until May, then comes down for his summer camp."
Mark Twain is the resident old-timer, a sweet-tempered ginger-colored male of 19 years who is toothless and unable to groom himself properly, necessitating regular shaving by the vet. But, says Horowitz, "Don't feel bad for Mark Twain. He's doing just fine. He gets around on his own and eats very well."
The well-being of the cats is taken seriously, with a veterinarian making weekly house calls.
"Nobody cares about the care of our cats more than we do. The bottom line is that the health and welfare of our animals has never been in contention," he says.
Until now, that is.
Vet Edie Clark is also responsible for one of the greatest spectacles of the year - what museum guides call the "cat rodeo." Staff attempt to round up the animals for their annual shots using treats, but word invariably leaks out via warning meows, and Dr. Clark and her team have to return the following week to catch up with those cats that escaped to the basement.
Meanwhile, as the last tourists of the day head for the exit, Boston Bob urges them to stop by the small cats' cemetery on their way out. "We rival anything Hollywood has to offer," he says. "We've got Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Marlene Dietrich, and Errol Flynn."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Other news articles on
hemingway cats

cats IN news today

feral cats news :: Trap Neuter Return news :: Trap Neuter Release ::
stray cats news :: felines news :: homeless cats news ::
spay neuter news :: "no kill" news
thanks to News.Google.com!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Cat Management in Communities

A prevention AND solution action for cities, counties, communities is to immediately implement or support comprehensive cat management programs that CONCURRENTLY promote :

* spay neuter, identification, and containment for 'owned' cats and
* Trap-Neuter-RETURN-Manage (TNRM) for unowned cats.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Neuter / Spay Assistance and Information ~ Oregon, Washington, Nationwide

Wet lab early spay/neuter of cats

Animal Welfare Federation of Connecticut
Connecticut Veterinarians Host Wet Lab on Early Spay/Neuter for Cats
Across the country, members of the animal welfare community are finding new ways to reduce the unnecessary euthanasia of pets. Cats, and the sterilization thereof, have become a focal point in this effort to address the pet surplus that claims the lives of so many unwanted animals. Accordingly, more and more veterinarians are practicing early spay/neuter to assist the work of humane organizations. At the same time the benefits of early spay/neuter in a private practice are becoming evident.
In September, veterinarians in Connecticut will host wet labs on early spay/neutering for cats. Sponsored by AWFCT, these wet labs will not only provide veterinarians with practical, hands-on experience relative to the technical aspects of the procedure, but will also illustrate how implementing such practices contributes to helping the feline overpopulation problem, while positively affecting the bottom-line.
Several long-term studies on prepubertal spay/neuter have shown no evidence of negative effects on cats and the American Veterinary Medical Association supports the concept of prepubertal sterilization. The veterinarians who currently provide this service to rescue organizations have discovered the benefits of implementing it in their private practice as well. They find that younger animals recover faster, require smaller incisions, use less anesthesia, and the cost per surgery is greatly reduced. Coupling the procedure with the legally-required rabies vaccination is convenient for clients, and guarantees that animals will be neutered before they become fertile, thus limiting the unexpected pregnancies of kittens that “sneak” into heat.
Veterinarians in Connecticut who practice early spay/neuter are excited about the opportunity to share their experiences with their colleagues. By providing hands-on demonstrations, interested veterinarians will have the opportunity to participate and learn techniques for safe pediatric sterilization.
Please contact AWFCT at events@awfct.org if you are implementing early spay/neuter in your practice and would like to host a wet lab, or to receive an invitation to attend. For updates regarding this event, please visit www.awfct.org/wetlab.htm.

feral cat program injunction denied

Viewpoint
A Message from San Francisco SPCA President Daniel T. Crain
January 2006

CARING FOR THE SF/SPCA'S CORE CONSTITUENCY
You may have seen them in your backyard, or around your apartment building. Perhaps you even feed them, or provide shelter for them during inclement weather. They are the feral and stray cats that live in our community and they are the San Francisco SPCA's core constituency.

In November 2005, I appeared before the San Francisco Commission of Animal Control and Welfare to oppose a request for an injunction against The SF/SPCA's Feral Cat Assistance Program sought by one of the commissioners. The request for the injunction was quickly denied by the other commissioners as being invalid, although a discussion about the program did take place.
The complaint against The SF/SPCA turns on a charge that the Society "abandons" feral cats once they have passed through the Feral Fix Program. This is a charge that I strongly refute. The goal of The SF/SPCA Feral Cat Assistance Program is to save feral cats and to control and reduce their numbers, and we are doing everything we can to attain this goal. The real "abandonment" of these cats comes every time one is dumped by an irresponsible owner. When these deserted felines have also not been spayed or neutered, their situation is even direr.
A feral cat is an unsocialized feline that was born outside and has never lived with humans, or it's a house pet that has strayed or been abandoned, and over time has reverted to a wild state. Feral cats usually can't be tamed, and therefore can't be adopted, and are most content living outside. There are thought to be about 60 million stray or feral cats in North America. In many cities, they proliferate unabated, with no safety net of care. But in San Francisco, The SF/SPCA Feral Cat Assistance Program works with caregivers to control the feral cat population, provide medical care and keep the cats adequately fed.
Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) is the most effective, humane and non-lethal strategy for controlling and reducing feral cat populations ...

The SF/SPCA Spay/Neuter Clinic offers free spay/neuter surgery and vaccinations for San Francisco's feral cats and kittens. Since our Feral Fix Program was founded in 1993, The SF/SPCA has altered well over 15,000 feral cats. It has been estimated that one unsterilized female cat and her offspring could theoretically produce 420,000 progeny over a seven year period. If we agree that approximately half of the 15,000 feral cats altered at The SF/SPCA over a 12 year period were female, then it can be inferred that several millions of feline births have been prevented during this time.
The Feral Cat Assistance Program at The SF/SPCA, and in partnership with San Francisco Animal Care & Control, is the only organized program in San Francisco dealing with the issue of feral cats. It's a hugely expensive program that generates no immediate monetary return on its investment. Unlike The SF/SPCA, several Humane Societies in counties surrounding San Francisco have been forced, by budgetary pressures, to end their Feral Cat programs. Nor have we thrown up our hands in despair at the seeming intractability of the problem; we continue to do all we can for these cats. We acknowledge that there are holes in the system, but the feral cats are taken care of as long as we know where they are.
Despite ongoing criticism, The SF/SPCA continues to endorse Trap/Neuter/Return (TNR) as the most effective, humane and non-lethal strategy for controlling and reducing feral cat populations. Entire colonies are humanely trapped and brought to The SF/SPCA by volunteers and good Samaritans in the community for altering and vaccinations. Young kittens and tame strays are put up for adoption. Very sick or badly injured cats are humanely euthanized; healthy, adult feral cats have their left ear tipped for identification purposes, and are returned to their colonies under the supervision of volunteer caregivers.
It is these caregivers who are the unsung heroes of the Feral Cat Assistance Program. Many of them have spent years providing sustainable care for colonies of feral cats, feeding them, monitoring them, relocating them if necessary, trapping any newcomers, and generally seeing the dwindling, through normal attrition, of a once large colony to a few elderly felines. Theirs is often a lifetime job, and I take my hat off to them. However, to come up with a fail-safe, after-care plan for cats that have been through the Feral Fix Program will require increased funding and work.
Since the inception of Feral Fix in 1993, the intake rate of feral cats has dropped by 16%, and adoption has increased by 16%. It is clear that the way to keep moving ahead is not to shut down the Feral Cat Assistance Program but to enlarge it, and to engage the community in supporting it. To close down the Program, with no feasible plan for anything to replace it, or any credible solution to the problem of feral cats other than their euthanization, is not an answer. Therefore, The SF/SPCA will continue to do everything it can to care for its core constituency.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

'do nothing' not an option

Radio Owen Sound CANADA
News for Saturday, August 5th, 2006

Stray cat complaints
South Bruce Peninsula is not taking steps to regulate cats despite resident complaints.
Mayor Carl Noble says irresponsible pet owners are causing the problem.
Noble says tourists bring barn cats and end up releasing them and then the cats migrate back to the barns -- causing a cat colony that keeps increasing.
The mayor says the OSPCA has always promoted the spay and neuter program.
He says cat overpopulation is not an issue in most municipalities.
Noble says he doesn't think that you can license or tag a cat.
He says people that have issues with cats should look back in history to when cats held a special place in society by killing rats and mice during the plague.
Council says at this time there will not be a regulating by-law placed on cats.
Council says they do not believe a by-law would avoid the cat overpopulation and it is not worth the amount of money it would cost to control the problem.

Wise that this municipality will not pursue a cat regulation by-law. Not smart to take a "do nothing" approach or ignore resident complaints. Surplus cats will not just go away; also they can reproduce early (by four months) and have several litters per year. Note the mayor said "cat overpopulation is not an issue in most municipalities." Oooh, I think local animal agencies, organizations and rescue groups would disagree. Yes, they do! (Have the mayor and the OSPCA communicated recently? !!!)

Over run with kitties
Radio Owen Sound - July 28, 2006
There are 5 times more cats than there are available homes in Grey Bruce.
OSPCA Inspector Jennifer Bluhm says there is a significant cat overpopulation problem in the area -- and they are not all strays.
Bluhm says the problem is definately more prevelant in rural areas, but it is also seen in urban centres that don't have cat control bylaws in place.
She says the single and most obvious way to control the cat population is to have your cats spayed or neutered.
Bluhm also points the finger at municipalities.
She says it's important for municipalities to consider putting a cat control bylaw in place that would give residents some relief from stray cats wandering onto their property.
She says the level of frustration among residents is growing.
The problem is less serious in municipalities such as Owen Sound where local bylaws require cat licences and prohibit straying.
In terms of cat bylaws -- Bluhm says there are mixed feelings.
People with indoor/outdoor cats, want them to wander -- and are therefore, apprehensive.
On the other hand -- residents not wanting cats roaming through their gardens are pushing for restrictions.
She says -- this spring has been the worst she's seen in the last 5 years -- and adds that number will only increase if something doesn't change.
Bluhm says if you see a stray cat in areas where cat bylaws exist you can call the municipality and arrange to have the cat picked up.
But -- for those who live in areas that don't have cat control bylaws, your hands are tied.
Bluhm says if residents feel strongly enough that bylaws should be in place, she urges them to call the municipality and make it known to council -- otherwise council won't know a problem exists -- and won't consider enacting that bylaw.

Most citizens will not want to take stray or homeless cats to a shelter, or have municipal animal control pick them up, if they realize the shelter kills a majority of such cats. Instead for unowned cats the community can let the council know that they want support for their practice of Trap-Neuter-RETURN-Manage (TNRM). CONCURRENTLY, for owned cats the community can provide cat identification; low-cost or free and accessible spay/neuter or sterilization; and promote cat containment.

See a previous Feral Cat Blog! post
Edmonton cat bylaw not enough
Friday, June 09, 2006

Spotsylvania pilot TNR program

Spotsy's pilot TNR program is humane
The Free Lance-Star, VA - 8/6/2006


I write this letter in memory of a feral cat named Moses who found human compassion in the final hours of his life.

It is also written in response to a recent letter to the editor that stated that Spotsylvania's Department of Animal Control does not assist the public regarding feral cats ["TNR program is the humane way to treat feral cats," July 12].

The writer misinformed the general public.

Spotsylvania Animal Control is currently involved in a pilot trap-neuter-return program for a colony of cats in a residential area.

This pilot program is indeed a humane approach and includes caretakers, scheduled feedings, and housing for the ferals.

Spotsylvania Animal Control is not indifferent or uninformed regarding the merits of TNR. But the reality is that currently, Spotsylvania Animal Control is "jammed" with animals that the staff did not breed, starve, abuse, or abandon.

This pilot TNR program is a positive step for Spotsylvania and its feral population.


Thea Verdak
Spotsylvania

Thea Verdak is president of the Rappahannock Humane Society.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

some feral cat news 08-04-06 08-05-06

Column: Be concerned, but cautious about cat's diagnosis
Norwich Bulletin, Connecticut - August 5, 2006
... Kittens and cats younger than 2 are the most common victims of FIP, followed by seniors. FIP rarely occurs with adult, middle-aged felines. ...

Cat population has exploded Orphans overwhelming shelters
MLive.com, Michigan - Aug 5, 2006
... Zimmer Foundation, an Ann Arbor-based organization that operates various programs related to cat welfare, including an effort to sterilize feral or wild cats.


Learn more
Ann Arbor News, Michigan - Aug 5, 2006
For more information about stray cats, feral colony management, or help with funding sterilization and vaccination of outdoor cats or pet cats in families with ...


Tails of Marin
Marin Independent-Journal, California - Aug 5, 2006
In fact, it's estimated that tens of millions of feral cats populate communities in the United States, and Marin is no exception. ...

Volunteers corral displaced tenants' catsFinger Lakes Times, New York - Aug 4, 2006
... Dave LeClair then made some calls and got in touch with Robyn Lenk of Feral Cat Friends, a Weedsport-based group that helps wild and abandoned cats. ...

PetSmart Charities previous webinars: spay / neuter

Spay / Neuter
Webinar Recordings and Presentation Slides
Missed a live session? Need a refresher? Want someone else to enjoy a presentation?

PetSmart Charities previous webinars: free-roaming cats

Free-Roaming Cats
Webinar Recordings and Presentation Slides
Missed a live session? Need a refresher? Want someone else to enjoy a presentation?

Friday, August 04, 2006

IndyFeral public initiatives

PetSmart Charities


downloadable pdf file: Quarterly Summer 2006
News for and about our animal welfare partners

PetSmart Charities Executive Director Susana Della Maddalena
talks to Lisa Tudor, President of IndyFeral, about her organization’s
successful public initiatives.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Athens Ohio repeals spay/neuter law

City Council repeals spay/neuter law; plans to replace it with 'better' one
Athens News - August 3, 2006
By Nick Claussen
Athens NEWS Associate Editor

Athens City Council is repealing its controversial spay/neuter ordinance and hopes to come back with a newer and possibly stronger ordinance later in the year.

Nancy Bain, who represents the city's Third Ward on council, said during a special meeting on Monday that if the ordinance isn't repealed, the current legal battle over it could cause problems for animal-rights laws around the country. Bain also took a few shots at the Petland store in Athens during the meeting, and spoke out about the pet overpopulation problem in Athens.

Petland, Inc., which is based in Chillicothe and has a store on East State Street, sued the city in March 2005 after City Council passed an ordinance requiring any dog or cat over 6 months old to be fixed before being sold or given away. The law required owners of younger animals to show proof that they have purchased spay or neuter service from a vet.

Petland, which does not spay or neuter all of the animals it sells but offers coupons for the new owners to have their animals fixed, has argued in court that the law is unenforceable and discriminatory.

Attorneys for the city and Petland tried to reach a compromise on the ordinance but were unable to and the trial was scheduled for Oct. 3 and 4 in Athens County Common Pleas Court. It looks like that trial won't be necessary now, though, because council is moving toward repealing the ordinance.

Bain said that after the current ordinance is repealed, a new ordinance will be voted on.

She said that in addition to wanting to see the ordinance improved, she's concerned about the legal ramifications if the city lost the court case with Petland. Bain said she has talked to animal-rights group leaders who are concerned that the case could impact animal-rights laws around the country.

While the current law is being repealed and was not enforced, Bain said she believes it did some good just by making people more aware of the pet overpopulation problem in Athens. Bain said she sees more people in her neighborhood working to address the overpopulation problem by having dogs and cats spayed and neutered, and taking other steps to help the animals. She added that she does not like the idea of Petland bringing more animals into Athens when there are already so many dogs and cats without homes.

"I have not been to Petland and I have no intention of going into Petland," Bain said.

She said she is upset that the store brings in animals from out of the area, including from a shelter in Jackson County, and adds them to the number of pets in the city.

While the store offers spay/neuter coupons, she added, it does not require its customers to have their new pets fixed, and the coupons are for veterinarians who work outside of Athens.

Kate McGuckin, a member of the Athens Coalition of Companion Animals (ACCA), said she supports council's move to repeal the ordinance and draft a new one. Other cities have spay/neuter laws, and Athens should be able to have one as well, she said.

Pet overpopulation is a big problem in Athens, and the city needs things like a spay/neuter law to help curb the problem, McGuckin said. Animal overpopulation leads to animal cruelty and many other problems for the dogs and cats, and for the people of the city, she said.

Petland also supports the move to repeal the ordinance, and company officials are waiting to see the new ordinance dealing with spay/neuter issues, according to Julie Washburn, public relations coordinator for Petland, Inc. "We see this as a positive move on the council's part and a step in the right direction," Washburn said Tuesday.

As for Bain's criticism of the Petland chain, Washburn said that the store does a lot to help animals and the community. "We don't' feel that we are adding to the pet overpopulation problem," Washburn said.

The company has good relationships with county dog shelters in the region, such as the Jackson County and Athens County shelters, she said. The Athens store has adopted out some dogs from the Jackson shelter and plans on adopting out dogs from the Athens shelter as well, she said.

"It's a positive relationship," Washburn said. "That relationship is moving forward."

She added that Lana Planisek, the acting Athens County dog warden/ humane officer/Athens city dog warden, stated in an Athens NEWS article in March that the number of dogs that the dog shelter takes in has not changed since Petland opened, and neither has the number of dogs that it adopts out.

Planisek said Tuesday that the dog shelter has not sold any animals to Petland yet, as the two sides agreed to do in April with the approval of the county commissioners. Planisek said the two sides are working out details of the arrangement, and added that she has been busy with other duties and has not been able to spend much time working on the contract.

"We need an actual agreement, and that hasn't happened yet," Planisek said. The dog shelter has seen an increase in animals this year, but that is due largely because of the closing of the local cat shelter, she explained.

Planisek said people have been improperly dropping off cats at the dog shelter on the weekends in the pens set up for people to drop off dogs when no one is at the shelter.

"I think we've had 20 so far," she said. Other people have been calling about bringing cats to the dog shelter, but Planisek said that the facility can't handle cats. She added that when people drop off feral cats, the cats are wild and nearly impossible for the shelter staff to catch.

The shelter has euthanized some cats, and has held a few tame cats for three days to see if anyone claimed them. "The county needs a cat shelter, but it's not the county dog shelter," she said.

Athens residents save wild neighborhood cats

Residents take action to save wild cats in their neighborhoods
Athens News Ohio - August 3, 2006
By Nick Claussen
Athens NEWS Associate Editor

Faced with the problems of stray cats running wild in their neighborhoods, several Athens residents are now putting up shelters for the feral cats and getting the animals fixed.

Kate McGuckin, a member of the Athens Coalition of Companion Animals (ACCA), told Athens City Council Monday about the work that's being done for feral cats in the city of Athens. McGuckin, attending the meeting to discuss council's move to change its spay/neuter ordinance (see related story), explained that many people are trying to control pet overpopulation in Athens by dealing with the feral-cat problem.

McGuckin said that area residents are trapping feral cats, having them spayed or neutered, and then releasing them back into the neighborhoods. Having the cats fixed keeps them from reproducing in the neighborhoods, but it also curbs some of the fighting between cats, she said. In addition, the feral cats stay in the neighborhoods and form small colonies that end up keeping other stray cats from moving in, McGuckin said.

Sara Filipiak, who is also a member of ACCA, added that over time, the cats in the colony will die off, and the colony will grow smaller and smaller. This allows the city residents to help curb the cat overpopulation problem in a humane way without hurting the cats that are already in the neighborhoods, Filipiak said.

Shelley Lieberman, who lives on the west side of Athens, bought 12 feral cat shelters to be used in Athens and has already given nine of the shelters to friends in the city to put out for the cats.

Lieberman said she has housecats, but is generally not a person who wants a lot of cats or animals. When a stray cat moved into her neighborhood and had kittens, though, she felt like she needed to do something to help the animals. Lieberman found homes for many of the kittens, but also wanted to do something to help the feral cats that run wild in the city.

She read about how cities across the country are using special shelters for feral cats, and thought they would be a good idea for Athens. The shelters look like small wooden boxes, and they are insulated and built so that up to three cats can be inside. Lieberman put straw inside the shelter in her backyard, and explained that the shelter has two levels for the cats.

"They work really well," Lieberman said. The cats stay warm in the shelters in the winter, and they tend to live around the shelter in the summer.

Feral cats are generally regarded as the fourth generation of cats that run wild, and in most cases they are afraid of people and cannot be petted, Lieberman said. While many people think feral cats are unhealthy, Lieberman said they generally are in good health and that it doesn't take much work to care for them. She considers her feral cats like pets, even though they cannot come in the house and cannot be treated like most pets.

On Tuesday afternoon, two cats were in Lieberman's backyard sleeping in the grass near the shelter, and Lieberman said the cats are no longer afraid of her, though they do run from most people.

One of her cats, Ali, is actually a stray that is not a true feral cat, Lieberman said. She can pick him up and pet him, but he cannot become a housecat (he sprays, which is one problem) and lives in the shelter in her backyard. This cat has become the dominant cat in the colony, Lieberman said.

"He chases dogs," she said about Ali.

She recently found another stray cat, Oscar, who was malnourished and appeared to have been injured in fights with other cats. After trapping this cat and taking him to the veterinarian, Lieberman is now keeping him at home and helping him regain his health, and hopes to find a home for him soon.

If she sees stray cats around her house that can live in homes, she will try to find homes for them, Lieberman said. Most of the cats she helps, though, are feral cats roaming wild that need shelter and a little care.

Lieberman is looking for volunteers to serve as foster homes for some of the feral kittens, or for people who want to help with the foster cats in their neighborhoods. She can be e-mailed at feralkittens@hotmail.com.