MONTOURSVILLE - Have you ever noticed a feral cat or two running across the street, maybe even with several small kittens in tow? Do you have stray cats at your back door, but don't know where they came from? Cat overpopulation is a real problem, not only in our local communities, but across the country.
Did you know the average cat can become sexually mature as early as four months? Usually the heat season in females runs from spring until fall. Pregnancy lasts for about nine weeks and, on average, there are 2 to 6 kittens in each litter. A cat can also go into heat while she is still nursing her litter and have up to three pregnancies in one year! Before the end of that year, her first litter has sexually matured and is ready reproduce. It is estimated that the number that one fertile cat and her offspring can produce in 7 years is 420,000.
Beckoning Cat Project is an organization working to implement a TNR program. TNR, or, Trap, Neuter and Return, is the humane trapping of feral cats. The females are spayed, males neutered and they are provided with a rabies vaccine, after which they are returned to where they were first caught. There must be a caretaker for the feral colonies. The cats need to be provided with food, water and shelter.
Above, is Friskie, a 12-year-old declawed and neutered cat. He is an absolute love bug. He just wants to be petted and sit on your lap all of the time. He would be a wonderful companion for a senior, but also has a temperament that would work with kids too. He is also fine with other cats.
There are some foster homes that the group can take in the occasional hard to place cat, but the primary focus is to stop euthanasia as a means of population control. Shelters are needed, but the only way to stop the explosion of stray and feral cats is through spaying and neutering. It is a proven fact that euthanasia does not stop the problem; new cats just enter the area.
Education and providing an avenue for low cost spay/neutering, as well as assistance with trapping is the key to getting this done, according to Kerry Perry, director of Beckoning Cat Project.
There is a difference between feral cats and strays. Ferals are totally unsocialized and do not want contact with people. They may, over time, become more comfortable with their caretakers, possibly even allowing themselves to be petted, but for the most part they will never be lap kitties. Strays are often very socialized cats that for whatever reason find themselves homeless.
Beckoning Cat Project is partnering with Animal Care Sanctuary from East Smithfield for our low cost spay/neuter clinics.
There is a cost to spay, neuter and vaccinate the cats and administration fee per owner (not per cat). It would be helpful to have local veterinarians be willing to participate in this very important community program.
In addition to cash donations for traps, vet care, transportation expenses, etc., there is also a need for supplies. We will accept any kind of dry or wet cat food. Litter is always needed, as are litter boxes, towels, and humane traps.
Volunteers are also very important. They are needed to man the clinics, to help with transports, trapping and releasing in the area. It can be for as few or as many hours as you can offer. Volunteers can also work on the networking end, organizing fundraisers, finding adopters and fosters, transporters, etc.
There is a huge need for permanent homes for the cats that are already in Beckoning Cat Project's program. Foster homes are also needed in the interim.
A foster home provides a more home-like setting, giving the cats a better chance at socialization, with more one-on-one interaction.
Senior assisted living communities often allow pets and we have some nice older cats that would make a wonderful companion. Fostering is also a great way to see if a specific cat will work out in your home before officially adopting.
"Our future goal is to have a 'storefront' low cost spay/neuter and wellness clinic for shots. Once we are able to have a permanent location we will be able to expand our program. We are looking for a location that would work for a small vet clinic and office space in the Montoursville to Hughesville-Muncy area," Kerry said.
Feral cats are always euthanized in the shelters, along with perfectly healthy, socialized, adoptable cats, every day. The main goal of Beckoning Cat Project is not to be yet another shelter with hundreds of cats looking for homes.
If interested in donating funds, supplies or time, contact Kerry Perry at 971-4592, email firstname.lastname@example.org and find us on Facebook.