Several years ago before Governors Lake and the new Townes were developed, Governors Lake resident, Cindy Reifsnider, made a commitment to address a large feral cat population near the lake. Today the cat population near the lake has decreased significantly. Cindy has written the following description of this effort to share with the other neighborhoods.
Contact Cindy Reifsnider (reifc71 at gmail.com) for more information.
Feral Cat Management in the Governors Lake Area
A number of feral cats live in the immediate area of the lake at Governors Lake. With the much-appreciated help of some other residents, I have been managing them though the widely accepted practice of TNR (trap-neuter-release), to prevent population growth and to control disease. A feeding box and some small shelters grouped near the lake serve as a natural gathering place for strays, where they can be monitored, trapped if necessary, etc. At this time there are only a few feral cats in the lake area to my knowledge, and to my knowledge they are not dangerous to people or other cats. The best thing we can do as a community to help this situation is to spay and neuter our own pets, even if they are kept “strictly indoors”, and to have your pets microchipped for identification. We cannot prevent the drop-offs of unwanted pets that continue to happen here but can try to re-home them as much as possible.
Feral cats do not let people approach them at all, and tend to avoid houses as well. There are tame housecats who sometimes take a stroll outdoors in our neighborhood, some of which also feed occasionally at the feral cat feeder. Our primary feral cat home is in the extensive storm drains, which stay warmer all winter, being underground. They use shelters near the feeder to wait for food, which allows us to look at them regularly and check for new arrivals, illness, pregnancy, etc.
The main goal of TNR is to prevent a population explosion of feral cats. Studies have shown that when feral cats are hunted down and killed, other feral cats move into the vacant territory and breed – there is a practically infinite supply of feral cats elsewhere in our county. TNR leads to a small population of non-breeding cats that controls its territory. As cats are caught they are checked for disease and given inoculations. Cats which are contagiously unhealthy are euthanized when caught. Note that the lifetime of ferals is typically short compared to housecats, a matter of three years or so.
If other parts of the larger Governors Village neighborhood need to institute a TNR program or put out a shelter, Chatham Animal Rescue & Education (CARE) loans out traps (both Have-a-Heart traps and drop traps), and a quick-and-easy-and-cheap shelter design is at http://www.pacthumanesociety.org/core/WinterShelter.htm.
References (for and against TNR):
- Key Scientific Studies on Trap-Neuter-Return
- Impact Assessment of a Trap-Neuter-Return Program On Selected Features Of Auburn, Alabama Feral Cat Colonies (PDF)
- Analyzing approaches to feral cat management—one size does not fit all (PDF)
- Critical Assessment of Claims Regarding Management of Feral Cats by Trap–Neuter–Return (PDF)
- Evaluation of the Effect of a Long-Term Trap-Neuter-Return and Adoption Program on a Free-Roaming Cat Population