‘Cat fixers’ aim to trap and help feral cats
by Mike Stucka,The Telegraph
October 29, 2012 11:15 AM | 1351 views | 2 2 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

MACON, Ga. (AP) — Every time a volunteer clanked a cat trap trying to get it into the right position, Honey’s white-and-tan, fur-covered ears twitched.

Honey got that name not from her owners but from a couple who’d been feeding her and who, Wednesday night, arranged for the traps they hoped she’d stroll into so she could be fixed.

Such feral cats — some lost or dumped from homes and some the offspring of those cats — can be surprisingly numerous. Cheryl Coffman, a volunteer who hoped Wednesday to have caught and fixed her 200th feral cat in less than two years, said that for every cat noticed on a sidewalk, there might be 10 more hiding in the bushes.

Coffman was aided by another volunteer, Lisa Walcott-Moreley, who has been looking after her own feral cat colony at a gas station near downtown Macon. Walcott-Moreley has seen many cats come in during the four-and-a half years she’s been feeding them — and she’s never truly sure when they’re gone.

"I haven’t seen Pretty Baby in two years," she said as she ticked off names. "I did see Junior at another colony. Big Orange is still alive."

The lives of feral cats aren’t easy, said Coffman, who founded Feral Feline Fixers less than two years ago. Feral Feline Fixers is a program of The Rescue Ranch of McRae and works entirely off donations and volunteer labor.

If the cats aren’t spayed and neutered, Coffman said, the colonies can grow as big as 100 cats, where they’ll have an even worse life. Her efforts — formally known as trap-neuter-return, or TNR — are designed to keep colonies intact without leaving a void that trapping and killing the cats would create. Statistics suggest the average feral cat lives about four years — and that’s four rough, rough years, Coffman said.

"I just didn’t want to see the suffering. You can prevent so much suffering just by (fixing) one," she said.

The actual work of fixing a cat isn’t easy. On a recent night, Coffman and Walcott-Moreley spent two hours setting, baiting, re-baiting and re-re-baiting eight traps. The two women and the eight traps all come packed into Coffman’s Honda Fit, which is equipped with a "I Love My Cat" vanity front license plate.

The duo came Wednesday to the River North subdivision, near the Jones-Monroe county border. There they found a nice house with a wooded backyard and at least five cats lounging around. They decided to set the traps in the back of the house, where the cats are usually fed.

Coffman told the homeowners that they should keep anonymous and hide the exact location of their house, because people will dump cats at a place if they learn someone is taking care of cats there. The homeowners spoke to The Telegraph on the condition that their names and location wouldn’t be used.

The man of the house said the feral cat colony started with two stray cats wandering by. More came, and their commitment grew.

"We’ve had several we’ve nurse-maided from birth. Once you name them, it’s all over," he quipped. He and his wife had agreed to pay for spaying and neutering through Coffman’s program — and thus get bumped up a years-wlong waiting list for help — and buy a 20-pound bag of cat food almost every week.

There are emotional costs as well to looking after the colony.

"We’ve had to be careful. They like to go under the hood. You’ve never had your heart drop like when you start the car and a cat starts howling," he said.

And the names tend to come in batches, he said, to make them easier to remember: "The newest ones are Curly, Larry and Moe." A fourth cat vanished before it could be named Shemp or Curly Joe.

Coffman asked the homeowners not to feed the cats for a day, so they’d be more likely to seek the food in the traps. Coffman and Walcott-Moreley started off with tuna. After about an hour of trying, they’d succeeded in catching a single cat, Pearl, who was the only cat that couldn’t be fixed. Pearl had just had kittens, and no one knew where the kittens were, so she couldn’t be separated long enough to be neutered and returned.

Coffman and Walcott-Moreley switched to the colony’s preferred dry food, then switched to pungent sardines.

By 8 p.m., they’d trapped just their second cat of the night and loaded seven empty cages into Coffman’s diminutive Honda. Then they discovered the second cat was, in fact, also Pearl. They released her onto a side yard and she quickly disappeared into the dark night.

Coffman said she’d never had such a tough night, but she also said cats aren’t generally noted for their cooperation. A 65-year-old retired nurse with back problems, she vowed to bring the traps back another night and try again.

And try she has. She’s fixed as many as 23 cats in a single colony, and she said her records show she’s done the trap-neuter-return on 26 colonies so far. One small section of Macon, maybe a few blocks on a side, has had 50 or 60 cats since fixed by Coffman, who says she has more to go.

Funding is the major limitation. She asks that any donations be made payable to The Rescue Ranch, with a memo noting it’s for Feral Feline Fixers, and sent to her at 260 Greentree Parkway, Macon, GA 31220. Coffman donates her time and gasoline for trips and all sorts of supplies, but the actual fixing requires a veterinarian. Coffman wants to do more, and she hopes more informal caretakers will step up.

"If you feed it, you spay or neuter it," Coffman said. "I hate saying that, but it’s just realistic."

Sarah Tenon, the new director of Macon-Bibb County Animal Welfare, said Coffman’s technique of trap-neuter-return has shown benefits elsewhere. Tenon said she hopes to soon talk to Coffman about whether some of the cat colonies can be fixed and taken away from neighborhoods where they’re not wanted to places where they are. Maybe someone has 10 acres and a pond, she said.

"I think down the line we want to look at and find those communities that would welcome that TNR program, and I think that we can start building one colony at a time," Tenon said. "The good thing is, they won’t re-multiply."

Of the colonies that have caretakers — rather than annoyed neighbors angry that a cat scratched their cars and dug in their children’s sandboxes — there’s little doubt that the cats and the caretakers bond.

Walcott-Moreley said she stopped at a gas station one fateful time.

"I just noticed a hungry-looking cat when I was buying cigarettes and gasoline," she recalled. She put some canned chicken out on a piece of litter. Now the cats recognize her. "They see my car and start meowing furiously if I don’t get out of my car fast enough," she said.

Despite the tribulations, she remains a cat person through and through.

"It’s kind of the reason I’m here," Walcott-Moreley said, "the reason I’m me, is to put a smile in a cat’s day."


Information from: The Macon Telegraph.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
October 30, 2012

FACT: Trap & Kill failed because cats cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control.

FACT: Trap & Sterilize (TNR) is an even bigger abject failure because these man-made ecological disasters cannot be trapped faster than they exponentially breed out of control, and they also continue the cruelly annihilate all native wildlife (from the smallest of prey up to the top predators that are starved to death), and the cats continue to spread many deadly diseases that they carry today -- FOR WHICH THERE ARE NO VACCINES AGAINST THEM. Many of which are even listed as bioterrorism agents. (Such as Tularemia and The Plague -- Yes, people have already died from cat-transmitted plague in the USA. No fleas nor rats even required. The cats themselves carry and transmit the plague all on their own.)

FACT: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY _NOTHING_ HUMANE ABOUT TNR. Nearly every last TNR'ed cat dies an inhumane death by road-kill, from cat and animal attacks, environmental poisons, starvation, dehydration, freezing to death, infections, parasites, etc. And if very very lucky humanely shot to death or re-trapped and drowned (the two most common methods employed on all farms and ranches to protect their gestating livestock's offspring and valuable native wildlife dying from cats' Toxoplasmosis parasites). This doesn't begin to count the thousands of defenseless native animals that cats skin alive and disembowel alive for their daily and hourly play-toys. The only difference in destroying cats immediately and humanely instead of trapping, sterilizing, then releasing them to an inhumane death; is that money isn't going into an HSUS or SPCA board-member's pocket, veterinarian's pocket, cat-food company CEO's pocket, or a drug-company CEO's pocket. And that's the ONLY difference!

FACT: Cats are a man-made (through selective breeding) invasive species. And as such, are no less of a man-made environmental disaster than any other caused by man. Cats are even worse than an oil-spill of continent-sized proportions. They not only kill off rare and endangered marine-mammals along all coastlines from run-off carrying cats' Toxoplasma gondii parasites, they destroy the complete food-chain in every ecosystem where cats are found. From smallest of prey gutted and skinned alive for cats' tortured play-toys, up to the top predators that are starved to death from cats destroying their ONLY food sources. (Precisely what cats caused on my own land not long ago.)

FACT: Hunted To Extinction (or in this case, extirpation of all outdoor cats) is the ONLY method that is faster than a species like cats can exponentially out-breed and out-adapt to. Especially a man-made invasive species like these cats that can breed 2-4X's faster than any naturally occurring cat-species.

FACT: In _TWELVE_YEARS_ Alley Cat ALL-LIES of NYC have only reduced feral cats in their own city by 0.08% to 0.024% (as the months go on that percentage becomes more insignificant), allowing more than 99.92% to 99.976% to exponentially breed out of control. Here's how Alley-Cat-ALL-LIES' deceptive math works: If you TNR 4 cats and 3 get flattened by cars this translates to 75% fewer feral-cats everywhere. Alley Cat ALL-LIES can't even reduce cats in their own city, yet they promote it as a worldwide solution. Then even bigger fools fall for it and promote it.

FACT: When researching over 100 of the most "successful" TNR programs worldwide, JUST ONE trapped more than 0.4%. Oregon's 50,000 TNR'ed cats (the highest rate I found) is 4.9% of all ferals in their state. Yet, by applying population growth calculus on the unsterilized 95.1% they will have trapped only 0.35% of all cats in their state sometime this year. Less than 0.4% is a far cry from the required 80%-90% to be the least bit effective.

FACT: Their mythical "vacuum effect" is a 100% LIE. A study done by the Texas A&M University proved that any perceived "vacuum" is just the simple case that CATS ATTRACT CATS. Get rid of them all and there's no cats there to attract more. I proved this myself by shooting and burying hundreds of them on my own land. ZERO cats replaced them FOR OVER 2 YEARS NOW. If you want more cats, keep even one of them around, more will find you. That university study also found that sterilized cats very poorly defend any territory. Non-sterilized cats, being more aggressive, take over the sterilized cats' resources (shelter & food if any). If there is any kind of "vacuum effect" at all, it is that sterilizing cats cause non-sterilized cats to restore the reproductive void.

FACT: During all this investigation I have discovered something that is unfaltering without fail. Something that you can bet your very life on and win every last time. That being -- IF A TNR CAT-HOARDER IS TALKING THEN THEY ARE LYING. 100% guaranteed!
November 30, 2012
What a freaking weirdo who copies and pastes the same weird rant every single time.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides