Spaying or neutering cats can prevent a community problem the Putnam County Humane Society is trying to put an end to.
The humane society is hoping to stop the growth of the feral cats in the community as they are trying to start a feral cats program.
Feral cats are wild cats, not strays. For example, a kitten that does not interact with any humans by the time it is eight to 10 weeks old can turn feral. Joanne Cole, the board president of the Putnam County Humane Society, said this kitten can then reproduce six to eight kittens when it is as young as four months old. Then the process keeps repeating itself unless action is taken.
The humane society would help control this population by the process of TNR, trap, neuter, return. According to indyferal.org, TNR "is scientifically proven as the most effective means of controlling the free-roaming cat population."
The process begins by having volunteers set up live traps to catch the feral cats. They then take them to the humane society to receive vaccinations and to be spayed or neutered.
"The answer is not to catch them or kill them," Cole said.
The cats are then marked by having a "portion of their left ear cut off," Cole said.
This doesn't hurt the cats as it is just a small notch on their ear so a person can tell that cat has been through the program.
The humane society would then return the cats back to the volunteers who would make sure these cats have shelter and food, but can live freely without reproducing.
The humane society has live traps they can loan to volunteers who are interested in controlling the wild cat population.
"If they are willing to work with us, we will work with them," Cole said.
Yet, the humane society is going to need help if they are to establish this program and have it succeed.
Tammie Gardner, the manager of the Putnam County Humane Society, said they need help finding veterinarians and organizations who will help with the funding that is needed for a successful program.
Right now, the humane society is helping out one woman who takes care of feral cat colonies in the area.
Nicole Carney, a five-year resident of Quincy, first noticed the wild cat problem at the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Cloverdale.
"Everybody around Cloverdale thought it was normal," Carney said.
Yet, one dying cat broke through to her heart and she knew that she needed to do something to help the wild animals. Like many volunteers in feral cat programs across the country, Carney donates her time, and even her money to help feed the cats and get them shelter. She will even find the kittens homes.
She doesn't go at this alone. Just in the last year, the Putnam County Humane Society has been donating food to the cause.
"We give her food if we have the extra," Gardner said.
Carney has also received help from the Face Clinic of Indianapolis as they have spayed or neutered the cats for a low cost and she believes this area needs the same kind of low cost spay/neuter clinic that is offered in Indianapolis.
"With them being fixed, it helps with the breeding, fighting and spreading diseases," Carney said.
"Be aware there is a problem with feral cats," Gardner said. "It's a very large problem."
Carney said it takes a dedicated person to volunteer their time to the feral cat problem. She doesn't plan to stop feeding them as she doesn't think it would be right to totally abandon them even though they will never leave the area they have chosen to live in.
"The little things matter," Carney said.
Volunteers are needed for donations of food and shelter. In addition, more people are needed to help capture the cats so they can be spayed or neutered.
Right now the humane society has three sizes of live traps they can loan out, with the payment of a deposit, so someone could catch a feral cat and have it spayed or neutered.
The humane society is bursting at the seams right now as they have more dogs and cats than they have room for. With more funding and awareness the humane society is hoping to decrease the number of animals brought into their shelter while stabilizing the growth of feral cat colonies in the community.
Carney doesn't believe that people really understand how much good getting a cat spayed or neutered can bring to a community. For example, 20 of the 25 cats Carney has been able to trap to have them spayed have been pregnant.
She doesn't have much hope on receiving any help, but she knows what she is doing is making a difference.
"They have it a lot better than they used to," Carney said.