It took a willing and cooperative neighborhood, a dedicated animal control officer and caring shelter staff to stop the population of cats in a colony.
A phone call about a sick kitten brought Warwick Animal Control Officer Joany Schmick to a Greenwood Lake neighborhood recently. But there’s never just one.
“One kitten led to another, then to another,” said Warwick Valley Humane Society President Suzyn Barron. “Suddenly, the colony was filled with kittens with upper respiratory and eye infections that no amount of food would cure.”
Permission was gained from the residents of the area, along with their monetary support, to trap, neuter and release the adults back to the neighborhood. Kittens would be trapped, provided medical care, spayed/neutered and adopted through WVHS.
ACO Schmick caught as many as six at a time, some by hand or with a net, “as they went airborne trying to get past her,” said Barron. “She also managed to catch a couple of raccoons in the process, which were promptly released.”
In all, 18 adults and 19 kittens were caught and fixed.
“Many of these kittens would not have survived the winter, as they also had internal parasites,” said Barron. “Those that did survive would have ended up breeding, with the next generation of kittens easily swelling the colony to nearly 100.”
A cat can have five litters a year with almost three kittens surviving per litter. Alley Cat Allies reports colony cats are considered community cats, which are unowned cats who live outdoors. Many community cats have a job by keeping the rodent population under control.
Stray cats are socialized to people and can be adopted into homes, but feral cats are not socialized to people and are happy living outdoors.
“If you feed ’em, fix ’em,” said Barron. “Feeding outdoor cats keeps them healthy enough to keep reproducing and uncontrolled (un-spayed/un-neutered) colonies become nuisance cats.”
In the last month, one kitten succumbed to her illness, and one has a heart condition. The other 17 have recovered from their illnesses. As each kitten reaches the weight of three pounds in the next few weeks, it will be fixed and be available for adoption. Adoption applications are now being accepted; go to wvhumane.org.
Barron is grateful to the neighborhood that supported the efforts of controlling this colony.
“The remaining cats can now live a stress-free life without contributing to the overpopulation of cats in their community,” she said.
Thank you, WVHS staff and neighborhood participants, for going above and beyond for all these felines.
One colony managed, many more to go.
Donations are needed to continue to care for these kittens and can be made at wvhumane.org or mailed to Warwick Valley Humane Society, P.O. Box 61, Warwick, NY 10990.