April 18, 2006 > Feral Fixers of Fremont
Feral Fixers of Fremont
by Stephanie Springer, Founder
Feral cats can be found just about anywhere. Some have a person feeding them on a regular basis while others live off mice, rats or whatever they can find in dumpsters.
These unsocialized cats bring out compassion from many people, anger in some, and because of their growing numbers, have forced us to come up with better solutions to deal with the issue.
People feed feral cats because they don't want to see them go hungry, which is the caring thing to do. But while they are aware of how quickly cats reproduce, many people still are not fixing the cats or they wait too long to start. By then the population has suddenly tripled and there are at least a few litters of kittens running around. This inevitably brings trouble for the cats and the community. It also creates an enormous burden for rescue groups and shelters that are inundated with kittens every year. The majority of cats and kittens euthanized in city shelters are the offspring of feral and stray cats.
Feral Fixers of Fremont (FFOF) is an all-volunteer group which implements the use of TNR (trap-neuter-return) with feral cats living in our city. TNR is the only effective tool in reducing the numbers of feral and stray cats.
FFOF provides education and trapping assistance to colony caretakers in Fremont so their colonies will stabilize and reduce over time. Colonies that are fixed and fed are not likely to cause complaints from the public. Their mating behavior such as fighting, yowling and marking subsides once they are spayed and neutered. They are healthy, look as good as owned cats and their numbers stop growing.
Feral cats often create bonds with their caretaker and some will build up enough trust to be petted. They will not only come to rely on the food but the emotional human interaction as well. Ferals in colonies will play with one another and are usually closely related.
If feral cats can't be adopted, then the next best home for them is outdoors, what they are already accustomed to.
Trap and kill has no measurable effect on reducing the homeless cat population at large. You can remove some of the cats from one area temporarily but what about the unfixed ones down the street, around the corner, at the park and so on? Eventually new unaltered cats will move in and start reproducing all over again. It provides no solution for the community or the cats. Neutering the colony and leaving them in place breaks this cycle.
Removing the food source to keep new cats from moving into vacant places is very difficult. Feral cats can eat insects or mice to stay alive. What is more likely to happen is someone will start feeding them. Since ferals are most likely to be found where people are, this provides the perfect opportunity to spay and neuter them. The more people who fix these cats, the more dramatically their numbers will decrease.
If a cat is using someone's yard as a litter box, there are things that can be done to deter this behavior. People who feed ferals can put out enough food for the cats without creating a wildlife problem. There are answers to these other issues, but if we are going to solve this problem, we need to stay focused on the big picture- reducing the population. It will require the public's participation and TNR is something people can feel good about doing.
Feral cats do not belong in shelters since they are not put up for adoption. They also take up much needed cage space from adoptable animals who will be euthanized early due to a lack of space. It also costs more than double to care, euthanize and dispose of a cat than it does to fix it. Our tax dollars are spent on this never-ending cycle of cats being born and euthanized.
No one wants to live in a place where cats and kittens are killed on a regular basis. It has an undeniable, negative effect on the community.
What I have learned by doing TNR for over 15 years is that the majority of the public wants an effective and humane solution. While people think the streets may not be an ideal place for the cats, they feel it's not their fault and they have a right to live.
The key to solving this problem is prevention. Educating the public with TNR workshops so we can show them how to fix the ferals they are feeding. Low cost or free spay and neuter vouchers and groups like ours that can go out and help provide TNR assistance when needed.
What will help us are monetary donations so we can buy traps and pay for the spaying and neutering. We will also need volunteers who will come along with us to humanely trap the cats and drivers to bring the cats to and from the vet. People who do this kind of work come from all walks of life but have one thing in common - their compassion for the cats. TNR workshops will be coming in the near future.
The feral cat dilemma has an easy answer and people just have to be educated. When you stop blaming the cats and start fixing them, you're well on the way to solving the problem.
For more information contact, Feral Fixers of Fremont, P.O. Box 3569, Fremont, or email volunteer@FFOF.info.