YUMA, Ariz. – “It’s not only the cats’ fault; this is human irresponsibility that’s brought us to this point. These are natural acts of cats and the people who aren’t part of the cat loving group, they love cats but they don’t want colonies, are not happy about these cat coming in their front yard,” says Animal Control Supervisor John Allen for Yuma Police Department.
Feral cats are the wild offspring of domestic cats and are primarily the result of pet owners’ abandonment or failure to spay and neuter, allowing them to breed uncontrollably.
That’s where Feline Friends of the Humane Society of Yuma (HSOY) comes in.
“In a public meeting with the city, they invited everybody who loved cats that could help with the feral cat problem in Yuma, Arizona. And there was about 12 of us that got together, and we decided we’ll call it ‘Feline Friends’,” says Volunteer and Chairwomen Nisa Sutton of Feline Friends At HSOY.
The mission is to humanely reduce the feral cat population by practicing T.N.R. or TRAP, NEUTER, RELEASE. Using this method in the last four years they’ve neutered almost 5,400 cats, helping reduce colony growth.
Sutton explains, “And then we’ll go out wherever they’re at, or where the colony is at and we’ll trap the cats, bring them to the shelter to the low cost spay and neuter clinic and they get spayed and neuter they get their rabies shot. Then the tip on the ear is notched. That’s the universal sign that the cat has gone through our program.”
Afterwards they’re fed and cared for before being released back to their colony. It’s not just the big cats that they’re catching in Yuma County; it’s also kittens. And although they’re not old enough to be spayed or neutered, they’re fostered at HSOY until they’re ready for adoption.
Sutton adds, “There’s a vacuum effect with the cats. Once you remove a colony another colony will move in. That’s why it’s better to spay and neuter, the TNR than, it is to just trap cats and have them euthanize because they’re always going to be there.”
Sutton says it’s a win-win for her and the volunteers of ‘Feline Friends’ and the HSOY because helping our furry friends also means helping the community.
Sutton concludes, “I love meeting the people who love the cats – they just love the cats so much. And every cat has a story; every caregiver. It’s very rewarding to release that cat back into its environment and you know it’s going to have a good life.”