The Warren County Humane Society is looking for some help in maintaining the cat population in the county.
The nonprofit organization is seeking assistance from the community in providing financial assistance for its TNR — Trap, Neuter, Release — Program.
Meghan Bowers, executive director of the Warren County Humane Society, stated in an email that the TNR program is 100% funded by designated donations, and the budget is separate from the shelter’s general fund. She said the shelter has only raised a few thousand dollars for the program in 2019, which was enough to fix 46 cats.
“We have this program available if people want help, but based on the response of the community, there is not much support for it,” Bowers stated.
She noted that the program consists of trapping cats in a humane trap, transporting them to the vet where they are neutered or spayed, and vaccinated, and returned to the location they came from. She stated that it is the only proven effective and humane method of dealing with community cats.
“They get to live their life while putting a stopper in the reproduction process,” she stated.
The problem with the cat colonies is the speed at which they are reproducing. She stated that each spring, during kitten season, the shelters in the Shenandoah Valley get flooded with people bringing in kittens that they found, or that their outside cat gave birth to. According to Bowers, there are dozens of cat communities in Warren County alone.
“The volume of new kittens greatly exceeds our capacity, and we are often having to turn people away,” Bowers stated. “These cats and kittens are generally unvaccinated and unhealthy, and often unsocialized, and are a huge burden on their caretakers.”
The Warren County Humane Society is a “managed intake shelter,” which means animals are accepted at the shelter by appointment when space is available. During kitten season, which can last from March to November, the shelter is typically at full capacity, so people who find cats and kittens who do not want to care for them are put on a waiting list.
“In 2012, we achieved no-kill status, and it is very important to us to maintain that,” she said. “That is why this managed intake process was put into place. Bringing in more cats than we have space means that healthy cats are euthanized, and we work very hard to avoid that.”
Bowers stated that the shelter can’t do much for the growing cat population unless the community supports the TNR program. Prices will be going up in 2020 to $95 to sterilize a single cat.
“Most people have the same mindset — “this is not our problem, the Humane Society needs to handle it,” she stated. “Well, community cats came from somewhere. They are generally housecats that were kicked out of the house, who had not been spayed or neutered, and together with their offspring, form the colonies.”
Anyone needing help with trapping can contact the Humane Society at 540-635-4734. Citizens may also share information on community cat colonies near their homes by contacting the shelter by phone or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.