25 January 2015
By Joanna Dunn Samson, Vice President of FOTAS
Shortly after sunrise last Saturday, 3 trucks set off from Wagener and Graniteville with a collective cargo of 19 feral cats trapped the night before from various cat colonies located in and around the two towns. The cats, trapped by volunteers of FOTAS’ Trap, Neuter and Release (TNR) program called Lenny’s Brigade, were on their way to Aiken Animal Hospital to be spayed or neutered by Drs. Cindy Brown and Mary Tricia White, two local veterinarians with big hearts and a deep commitment to animal welfare.
By 8 a.m., all 19 crates had been unloaded at the Hospital. By 8:15, Drs. Brown and White, accompanied by Veterinary Technicians, Leanna Long and Paxy Holley, and Veterinary Assistant Megan Degan, began to sedate and prep the animals for surgery. By noon, all 19 surgeries had been completed, and the cats were resting comfortably in their crates.
“Dr. Brown and her team are amazing,” says Jennifer Miller, President of FOTAS. “They are top-notch doctors dedicated to the highest standards of professional care. When Dr. Brown offered to donate not only her time, but her clinic and supplies as well, we were speechless with gratitude.”
“Between our practice and our families, time is a valuable commodity for all of us,” says Dr. Brown, “so we made the decision as a team to take this on. We have the skills, we have the place, and we have the supplies, and we thought, ‘This is really important.’ It’s another way for us to give back to the community.”
It is important. Community, or feral, cats are domestic cats that have been either abandoned or born in the wild. Highly adaptable, cats can survive quite well on their own; however, an unmanaged, unchecked population of feral cats has the potential to upset the balance of nature in the area in which they live.
Not surprising since it is estimated that a female cat is capable of producing as many as 100 kittens during her lifetime. If a typical colony is 25 cats, and slightly more than half are female, that’s 1300 offspring per colony without factoring in the breeding capacity of the males and the fertility of the subsequent generations of female offspring.
TNR programs like Lenny’s Brigade involve humanely trapping, sterilizing and inoculating community cats, then returning them to their original colony. Long-term studies indicate that over time, TNR is a more effective way of reducing community cat populations than just euthanizing them since new cats always move in to fill the void.
Lenny’s Brigade, the brainchild of FOTAS volunteer Dr. Kathy Bissell, DVM, pioneered TNR in Aiken County, and thanks to FOTAS organizers Colleen Timmerman, Vicky Wright, Dottie Gantt, Carol Miller and other volunteers, and Mayor Mike Miller from Wagener, FOTAS has organized and funded the spay/neuter of more community cats in the past two years than any other organization in the County – 409 feral cats to be exact.
Back at the Aiken Animal Hospital, after a couple of hours of rest, the 19 cats were loaded back on to the trucks and returned to Wagener and Graniteville, where they were collected by the FOTAS volunteers who had dropped them off in the morning. Most of the cats spent the night with the volunteers and were reunited the next morning with their colony of origin – safe, inoculated from disease and no longer capable of contributing to future generations of unwanted cats.
If you do the math, that’s at least 1300 less future homeless kittens to worry about thanks to 2-3 days of hard work by dedicated volunteers.
It’s a start.
PETS OF THE WEEK
CASPER — Male, American bulldog mix — 4 1/2 months, 23 lbs — $70
PINE — Male, Domestic Short Hair — 3 months — $35