On any given night in Tulsa, a group of volunteers is on the streets rounding up community cats, stray felines that take up residence anywhere and everywhere within the city limits.
Kelly Hines, a volunteer and spokesperson for T-Town Trap-Neuter-Return, performs this task nearly every night of the week. “Our goal is to end the overpopulation crisis in Tulsa by getting these unowned cats fixed,” says Hines, who joined the group in 2018.
She and another dozen volunteers have the art of capturing down to a science, using humane live-release traps and lures of tuna, cat food and sardines. Once acquired, the cats are taken to a veterinarian who performs the spay or neuter procedure. The cats are kept overnight for recovery and medical assessment, then returned to the same site the next day. Returned cats are marked to help volunteers assess in the future if the animal has already been sterilized.
T-Town TNR began in 2015 and has already helped nearly 5,000 cats. The nonprofit typically has more than 50 waiting assignments and performs 6-10 appointments a week.
Hines, who is a local journalist, says homeowners usually feed groups of cats; that’s why they hang around. Prior to trapping, T-Town T-N-R want the cats hungry so they will respond to bait. That requires advance coordination with the homeowner.
This year Hines has personally returned 400 cats. “Every cat that I get fixed and then return,” she says, “that cat is able to just be a cat and live out its life. I enjoy that.”
To learn more about T-Town TNR or to donate, visit ttowntnr.com.