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Help make Suffolk safe for feral cats

By Carla J. Browning

Euthanasia in animal control pounds and shelters is the No. 1 documented cause of death of all cats in the U.S. The most comprehensive study to date indicates that 72 percent of all cats entering these facilities are killed. Just 23 percent are adopted, and only 2 percent are reunited with their owners.

For feral cats, sometimes called community cats, the kill rate in pounds and shelters rises to virtually 100 percent.

Since feral/community cats are not socialized to humans and can’t adjust to life in a human home, and they have no traditional “owners” to claim them, the only possible outcome is death.

Cities across the country are realizing that rather than endless catch and kill, our tax dollars and donations would be much better spent on trap-neuter-return for outdoor cats and low-cost spaying and neutering for all cats.

Although the exact number of feral cats in this country is not known, some scientists estimate it is the same as the house cat population, about 82 million. These animals are one of the most significant populations facing animal control pounds and shelters today.

While this may sound daunting at first, a robust trap-neuter-return program is the only logical and proven solution to this epidemic. But we can only be successful if our community takes responsibility to make things right on behalf of the millions of healthy cats being killed to make space in our shelters.

In response to this community issue, The Cat’s Meow Animal Rescue is collaborating with other local agencies to organize and implement a citizen-driven effort to radically change how we care for and manage our feline population.

As a starting point, we will be organizing monthly planning sessions and canvassing events to educate and train citizens on humane feline population control practices and the value of playing an active role in helping Suffolk become a city that affords every healthy, non-threatening feline a chance to live.

Please join us Dec. 9 at 10:30 a.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott on Harbour View Boulevard as we begin a community-wide conversation to take action to help implement humane strategies to feline population control. A second meeting will be held that day from 1 to 4:45 p.m. at the Morgan Memorial Library on West Washington Street.

Contact our Hampton Roads regional director today to find out how you can play a vital role in transforming how we care for our feral cat population.

Carla Browning is a Suffolk native and a 1990 Suffolk High School graduate. She is the founder and co-director of The Cat’s Meow Animal Rescue, which began in Los Angeles. Email her at info@thecatsmeowanimalrescue.org.