KINGMAN - Feral cats might not have a home, but it doesn't mean they can't be loved.
The Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic, in conjunction with a 501c3 foundation under the same name, trapped nearly 100 feral cats in downtown Kingman and took them to the clinic to spay and neuter them. The clinic normally fixes any feral cat brought in for $35, but the recent trapping and neutering was funded solely on donations from the community via their foundation. The foundation also assists individuals who can't afford the fee.
"This has been a service of the clinic and we are excited about implementing an organized TNR (trap, neuter, return) program to help feral cats on a larger scale," said Billie Tedesco, a volunteer with the Low Cost Spay/Neuter Foundation.
She and Kristin Freiert, marketing manager at the clinic, were at the Kingman Mobile Home Park in downtown Kingman trapping feral cats on Thursday and Friday. They worked with other volunteers throughout the weekend to trap, neuter and return the cats.
The organization is working with Dr. Taylor Ciccone, owner of the clinic, who conducted the surgeries. She also received assistance from Dr. Robin Paterson and two of her vet technicians from Cerbat Cliffs Animal Hospital.
"This is a special event," said Dr. Ciccone. "We can't pull this off without help from our partners."
"We want the community to see this and save the cats. This is a huge problem," she added.
Euthanasia is the biggest concern. Last quarter, the Western Arizona Humane Society brought in 519 cats and put down 256 of them, with a live release rate of 40.2 percent. The quarter prior the shelter brought in 526 cats and put down 212 of them with a live release rate of 46 percent.
According to Alley Cat Allies, a cat advocacy group, nearly 70 percent of cats that end up at a shelter or pound are put down. Feral cats, once they are adults, cannot be adopted or trained. Those cats are most likely to be put down.
Programs like the recent one are designed to reduce that euthanasia rate while simultaneously reducing the feral cat population humanely.
Cages with cat food are set around a home where feral cats are known to live. Once a cat is captured, volunteers from the clinic will cover the cage with a cloth to calm it before transporting the cat to the clinic at 1707 Andy Devine Ave.
Cats are fed and treated with medicine if they are noticeably sick, and after recovering from their surgery the cats are returned to their homes.
Volunteers work with homeowners to identify cats that frequently visit the home. Homeowners at the locations on Oak Street and at the Kingman Mobile Home Park often feed cats that inhabit the area.
Trap, neuter, and return is the preferred practice used by animal groups like this. Cats are territorial, and feral colonies often inhabit an area that has adequate food and shelter. When those cats are removed and not returned, either through euthanasia or other means, other feral cats outside the colony will move in.
Returning the cats after getting neutered helps stabilize the population and reduces fighting and stresses related to pregnancy and breeding. Colonies reduce in size humanely over time.
The clinic hopes to conduct more of these programs in the future, but does rely on donations from the public to do so.
For more information on how to assist the foundation in funding spay and neuter programs, contact Kristin Freiert at 928-692-5226 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic also welcomes visitors.
Both Freiert and Tedesco also offered advice to people who feed feral cats and want to help them:
"If you feed them, fix them."