One of the strays.Supplied image

An Arthur-based animal rescue group has created a new program to take care of a colony of feral cats living in The Ward.

In partnership with Cats Anonymous Rescue and Adoption in East Garafraxa, Arthur Animal Rescue volunteer and resident of The Ward Taylor Lehman said both animal rescue groups created a trap-neuter-release (TNR) program to provide medical care for a colony of approximately 12-15 stray cats living along the train tracks in and around Sackville Street. 

Cats Anonymous previously initiated a TNR program in 2020 when the colony had about 40 cats. 

“There was at least one cat there that (was just dropped off and) in desperate need of medical care,” said Lehman. “He had a tumour that had grown through his entire jawline and nobody had called a rescue or anything to try to get some help … there wasn’t anything (the vet) could do and he had to be euthanized.” 

Lehman said TNRing the cats will help cut down on certain cancers and lessen aggressive behaviour like spraying and fighting while addressing the population concern and protecting wildlife native to the area. 

“An exponential problem,” one breeding pair of cats can have a litter approximately twice a year. 

“I think this program is a great idea because they keep breeding and the kittens usually don’t make it,” said cat lover Mika Everitt, who moved to the Ward in 2021. “They just keep having more kittens and that makes the colony larger and means there are more stray cats in need of help.” 

Everitt said they’ve wanted to create a TNR program for a long time but it was difficult getting neighbours involved and finding a rescue who could help on such a large scale. 

Often seen mingling with outdoor house cats living in the area, unfixed cats can be recognized by their lack of a tipped ear, which is when a vet cuts off a tiny bit of their left ear. 

“The night (I first found the cats), I saw a mom cat and two kittens run across the train tracks. followed them to the colony and I’ve been checking in on them at least once a month ever since,” said Everitt. “I sit with them for about an hour and just put food out for them. Sometimes they’ll actually bring a toy and play with it.” 

Looking forward, Lehman said funding is currently the program’s biggest barrier while volunteers are needed to watch the traps.

It costs $150 to TNR one cat. Lehman said an anonymous donor will match initial donations of up to $250. 

“My hope is that the residents who feed the cats will continue to work with us in the future to help maintain the colony,” said Lehman.

More information about the program, getting involved and where to donate are available here.

By Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 03, 2024 at 08:20

This item reprinted with permission from   Guelph, Ontario
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