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June is Adopt a Cat Month

adopt a cat monthSt. Mary's County, MD - June is Adopt A Cat Month, and if there is one thing you can be certain of, there is a kitty in need of a home near you.

Diane Harris of Feral Cat Rescue in St. Mary’s County, said the non-profit agency formed in 2007 not only because of the increasing feral cat population, but because cats were being euthanized in record numbers.

“The statistic I think is most revealing is that in 2007, the Tri-County Animal Shelter was euthanizing 550 cats a month,” Harris explained. “In 2016, that number has been reduced to 185 a month. Our work has made that big of a difference in just nine years,” she said.

Feral Cat Rescue’s main mission is to improve the lives of feral cats, she noted, which is done through a process called TNR—Trap, Neuter and Release. She said the organization lends traps to citizens or will trap the strays themselves. Once the animals are spayed or neutered and given their shots (along with having their ears chipped to designate them as a vetted cat), they are either adopted out or returned back to their environment. Harris said that between 150 and 160 cats have been adopted out while around 400 have been returned back—but will no longer reproduce.

“I’ve seen one cat turn into 40 in a period of nine months,” she said. “From what I understand, it costs $100 every time a cat goes through the doors of the animal shelter, because of animal control, feeding and sheltering the animal. We save the taxpayers a lot of money.”

One negative aspect of their work comes from “birders” who advocate for the birds and are upset that feral cats kill birds.

“There was a Harris Poll in 2006 which asked if there was a stray cat, would you rather it be euthanized or left to live outside and 80 percent of those polled wanted to allow feral cats to live outside. What most bird people don’t understand is that through our work, we are actually reducing the [feline] population.”

Feral Cat Rescue advocates adoption when they can, and even though June is designated as Adopt a Cat Month, she said every month is Adopt a Cat Month for their organization. Every Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m., Feral Cat Rescue members hold adoption events at Petco in California. She said that folks who want to help their efforts can donate cat food to the organization and bring it to Petco during their weekend adoption events.

They are also looking for appropriate outdoor homes for some of their strays, such as a farm or farmette where their charges can de-rodent the barn for food and a place to live out its days in feline contentment.

Some of their adventures in their rescue work have been interesting. They once rescued 10 kittens out of a storm drain near Panera Bread in California, “Not a good place for them to be,” Harris noted; and once removed 32 cats from behind the Lexington Park Library.

“We have our hands full, believe me,” Harris said.

She said that while more people are becoming aware of the growing feral cat population, awareness is an ongoing process.

If you have feral cats in your neighborhood in St. Mary’s County, contact Feral Cat Rescue at info@feralcatrescuemd.org.

“My message is, stop creating more, there’s plenty,” she said.

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com

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