GREENVILLE — At the September 5 meeting of Greenville City Council, Darke County Humane Society Board Member Denise Prestopic asked if the city would provide additional funding to help the Humane Society continue its efforts to reduce the feral cat population in the city.
A $2,000 matching grant from the city provided earlier in the year has already been expended, with approximately 70 feral cats in Greenville aided through the Society’s Trap, Neuter, Return (or Release) program.
While council’s Finance Committee will meet September 12 at 4 p.m. to consider the matter of additional funding, the Humane Society is hoping citizens themselves will join in its efforts to curb the feral cat population.
“We are grateful the city acknowledged there is a problem and contributed,” said Prestopic. “But we cannot fix every feral cat in the City of Greenville. It would utterly break both the city and us. It takes every resident to contribute and not to turn their back and say ‘The cats are two blocks down from me.’ What they don’t know is, eventually, it’s going to be in their backyard. They move, expand, and create new colonies.”
A female cat can give birth to two litters of kittens per year, each litter typically having 5 to 8 kittens. As the process is duplicated over time, it doesn’t take long before a neighborhood can be overwhelmed with colonies of feral cats.
Prestopic says the feral cat problem originates as a result of domesticated house cats being abandoned by their owners.
“It all started because we, as human beings, think cats are disposable creatures, and they just throw them out with no regard,” she said.
“Feral is a word giving a description of a cat that has had no human interaction. They are born in the wild and remain feral, where they fear human contact. They take on the same features, characteristics of skunks, possums, raccoons,” she said.
Feral cats have a typical lifespan of 3 to 5 years, she added, much less than that of a domesticated cat. And their living conditions are less than ideal.
“They’re going to freeze to death, they’re going to scavenge for food, drink polluted water,” she said, noting that the unhealthy conditions can lead to feline leukemia, which can be spread to other cats.
Working with local veterinarians, the Humane Society has negotiated the cost to spay a female cat at $70, while neutering a male cat costs $60. The cats are also vaccinated before being returned to their habitat.
The problem is countywide. In addition to Greenville, the Villages of Versailles and Ansonia have also donated TNR matching funds to reduce the population in their neighborhoods.
Judy Francis, president of the Darke County Humane Society, says the TNR program is “the only way” to fix the problem.
“Our plans are to get a handle on this whole thing. Trap, neuter, return is the only way to put the feral cat population into a decline,” she said. “TNR works because you are eliminating a colony through attrition. The colony still stays there and protects their territory and their food source, so others don’t come, and they don’t come internally because they can’t produce more. So your colony goes to nothing, eventually.”
Ultimately, the Humane Society’s message is simple.
“This is a workable program. It will work,” said Francis. “The City of Greenville has been very helpful. We have been out in front on this program. Now we’re asking the citizens to step forward. If you don’t like cats, it solves your problem. If you love cats, it protects them. Help us do this.”
For more information on the Humane Society’s feral cat program, or it’s other efforts to aid animals, contact the organization by phone at 937-548-1009 or go online to darkecountyhumanesociety.org.
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com
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