The rest of the story...

Here's where I tell you all the stuff that wouldn't fit in a 2-minute TV story.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cat Trappers

Darcie Luster with trapped kittens.
Click here to view the Television Story that aired on Fox 21/27.

When you talk about feral cats, you begin to get frustrated.

Your reasoning goes something like this:  Cats are pets.  People should take care of their pets.  If people would just do what they are supposed to do there would be no such thing as "wild" house cats.  Can't we just go catch them all, tame them and see that they get good homes?

Another, less sympathetic line of reasoning might be:  If these "wild" house cats are causing such a problem, let's catch them and have them euthanized so they can't cause any more problems.

Neither solution will work.

That's what I learned when I spent a day last summer with Darcie Luster, a cat trapper in Floyd County.

According to Darcie, there will always be feral cats.  The best we can hope to do is manage them.  People will always drop off unwanted litters near barns, dumpsters or the side of the road.  Those kittens will create populations that will sustain themselves, unless there is human intervention.

I initially had a hard time understanding the intervention part.

Darcie traps the cats, takes them to the Mountainview Humane Spay/Neuter Clinic in Christinansburg where they are "fixed," given a rabies shot and returned to Darcie who returns them to the wild.  (unless they are kittens young enough to be tamed and adopted.)

Why in the world would you return them to the wild?

Apparently, it actually keeps the numbers of feral cats in check.  The neutered cats still own that piece of territory.  They interact with other neutered cats in that zone and produce no kittens.  They also prevent other strays from taking up residence there.

Darcie says the case study in our TV segment proves it.  (As do many cases.)  The feral cat population has dwindled from about twenty down to five or six near the Floyd warehouse where we shot the segment.

I also asked her if she ever mistakenly trapped someone's pet.  She says it happens occasionally but real house cats act differently than their feral cousins.  "Feral cats don't meow," she explained.  "That's a learned behavior that comes from being around humans."  They also act differently after they've been trapped.  They are much calmer.  "If it happens, we just take them back to their home unharmed," she said.

All in all, Darcie and Kathy Poole, president of the Floyd County Humane Society make a strong case for TNR -- Trap, Neuter and Release.

They are dealing with dozens of colonies around the county.  They have garnered widespread support, and it seems to be working.

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