Carolyn Smith, St. Augustine Humane Society’ interim operations director, notified Historic City News that they are promoting a humane feral cat trap-and-return, spay and neuter program — a method advocated by many animal rescue organizations to manage feral cat colonies.
The local non-profit maintains a public trap depot that can be accessed by individuals who wish to humanely control the local feral cat population. The feral cat caregiver may borrow the traps to catch feral cats for trap and return purposes only. The Humane Society’s shuttle system will transport the feral for spay and neuter surgeries at the organization’s partner clinic, First Coast No More Homeless Pets in Jacksonville. The humane feral cat traps are available for $50 per trap with a refundable cash deposit.
“Feral cats are the offspring of lost or abandoned pet cats or other feral cats that are not spayed or neutered,” said Smith. “They typically live in a colony which is a group of related cats, and the number of cats can rapidly increase without intervention by caring people,” she said.
“Unfortunately, many cats don’t survive. If they do survive, their lives aren’t easy without human caretakers. Female cats may become pregnant as young as five months of age and may have two to three litters a year.”
The St. Augustine Humane Society’s trap, neuter and return (TNR) program is a non-lethal strategy to help reduce the number of feral cats in St. Johns County. TNR is believed to be one of the most effective methods of preventing the overpopulation of feral cats and can help to improve the quality of life for cats, birds, wildlife, and people. While the debate continues as to how best to manage cat colonies, over 30,000 feral cats are in the region and indiscriminately breeding. The organization’s goal is to sterilize as many as possible so less offspring are born, eventually reducing the population through attrition and to prevent possible euthanasia.
The transport and surgery service for feral cats includes a climate-controlled cat shuttle which leaves the Humane Society on the second Friday of each month at 11:00 am. Cost for spay and neuter per cat is $30 with registration at the time of drop-off and includes surgery, rabies and distemper vaccines, ear mite treatment and ear tipping to identify the feral cats. Cats must be transported in a humane trap with a maximum of one cat or two small kittens per trap. Cats stay overnight at the clinic to be monitored post-operatively, and are returned to the Humane Society on Saturday for pick up.
The St. Augustine Humane Society is located at 1665 Old Moultrie Rd. in St. Augustine. For more information, call 904-829-2737