Cats moved from colony

The dispersal of the denizens of the Riverton cat colony in Front Royal is well underway with all of the so-called friendly felines already removed and only a few members of the feral population remaining.

Officials with the state Department of Game and Inland Fisheries decided the cats had to go after troubles mounted with litter, ecological disturbances and traffic impeding fishermen’s access to a nearby game and inland fishery boat landing on the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.

Tammy Tharpe Smelser, one of several cat activists who have worked with the state to conduct an orderly and humane removal of the animals, said the effort began last week. So far everything has gone smoothly.

“Everything has gone as planned,” Smelser said. “It’s been an ongoing process and will be until it’s completely cleaned up.”

Smelser said 10 friendly cats have been removed and taken to non-profit animal care organizations or the Humane Society of Warren County. She estimated another seven or so feral cats remain at the site. Other feral cats have been removed and taken to a location that is being kept secret “because we don’t want people dropping other cats,” Smelser said.

All of the cats are vetted, spayed and neutered after they have been removed. No cats have been euthanized nor are there any plans to do so unless one of those that has yet to be trapped is found to be too sick to regain its health.

The only complication in eliminating the colony has come from people who continue to visit the site to feed the remaining cats. Smelser said food given to the cats in the morning makes it harder to lure them into traps set later in the day.

She said no one should be bringing any more cats to the site.

“We’re not stopping until we get them all,” Smelser said. “Once we get them all out of there, signs are going to be posted and anybody caught dropping a cat or companion animal will be prosecuted.”

Smelser said she and others working to remove the cats are looking for anyone with a barn or rural property that could serve as a home for one or more of the feral cats.

“We really, really need help with the feral cats,” Smelser said.

Donations are also being sought to pay for veterinary services such as spaying and neutering. Checks can be sent to Neuter Now, P.O. Box 59, Front Royal, VA 22630 or the Warren County Veterinary Clinic at 8506 Winchester Road, Front Royal, VA 22630. The memo line on the checks should specify the money is for the Riverton cats.

Online donations can be made at the website Myevent.com/felinenetworkrescue.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com