Felines find new homes

Published 8:25 pm Saturday, December 22, 2012

This year, Suffolk Humane Society has found homes for more than 200 cats and helped stunt growth of the city’s feral cat population through trap-neuter-release efforts — but it doesn’t come cheap.

According to the society’s director of community outreach, Kay Hurley, the feral cat program ran out of money in November.

At known cat colonies around Suffolk, “colony caretakers” and Suffolk Humane volunteers trap feral cats, spay or neuter them, and then release them.

Suffolk Humane Society has found new homes for more than 200 cats this year and helped halt the proliferation of feral cats via its trap-neuter-release program. But the society, which relies on donations, needs more financial support to keep up the good work.

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For each procedure, the caretaker pays $30, and Suffolk Humane contributes $60.

“It stops the cats from reproducing, and it’s a humane way to deal with overpopulation,” Hurley said.

Research shows that one unfixed feline can spawn more than two million feral cats over eight years. It is often cited as a major environmental problem, with native birds often the victims.

“We are aware of over 30 (colonies) that have caretakers that have contacted us for help,” Hurley said. “I’m sure there are hundreds more (in Suffolk).

“All of our support depends on fundraising and donations, and we did not do Mutt Strut this year — that has been postponed until May. This year has been a little more challenging.”

The cat adoption effort, meanwhile, costs about $175 for 245 pounds of cat litter and $75 to $125 for 60 to 120 pounds of cat food, per week.

The society spends an average of $100 per cat to ensure the animal is healthy, vaccinated and socialized before being adopted, Hurley said, adding that some cats might require extra medical care.

As well as donations, Suffolk Humane also relies on community partnerships, including with the city’s Suffolk Animal Care, which is separate from the society; PetSmart stores, which facilitate many of the society’s adoption events; and local veterinary hospitals.

One of those, Nansemond Veterinary Hospital on Kensington Boulevard, recently installed a “cat condo,” where clients can get acquainted with cats available for adoption.

“Our clients can play with them and see if they might be a good fit for the family,” said Megan Taliaferro, an associate veterinarian at the hospital.

The condo’s first two kittens have been temporarily removed because of illness, but are expected to return soon. “We haven’t officially had an adoption yet,” Taliaferro said.

Academy Animal Care on Pruden Boulevard also helps adopt cats, Hurley said.

Photos of adoptable animals currently available at Suffolk Animal Control can be viewed at www.suffolkhumanesociety.com.

Contact Suffolk Humane at 538-3030.