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Monday, Apr. 21, 2014

Possible solution seen to feral cat problem in county

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Feral cats have become a growing problem in the Putnam County area. While many people are disgusted with it, others have taken it upon themselves to make sure the cats are cared for as much possible.

This year Barb Gaber and two friends have taken it upon themselves to use the trap-neuter-release practice to help safely control the cat population.

Many people don't know the difference between a stray and a feral cat. One important distinction is that a stray cat is not afraid of people while a feral cat will most likely crouch down low and run away in the presence of people. Feral cats, however, are not adoptable while strays are.

"Most of them are born to feral mamas and they can't be tamed," Gaber said.

Feral cats are known to form natural colonies. Due to their reproductive nature, a single cat can have at least three litters a year. Feral cats also have a tendency to help nurse other cats' litters. It's estimated that there are probably 300-500 feral cats in Putnam County.

The group practices the trap-neuter-release technique to help control the population. They trap the cats using "Have a Heart" traps and then cover them with a blanket to calm the cat down. They are then transferred to S.P.O.T, a non-profit veterinarian in Cloverdale, to be neutered and vaccinated.

After being neutered, the cats get shots for rabies, fleas and worming, as well as ear tipping, a process of which cuts off a small section of the cat's ear to show the cat is neutered. The cats are then released.

"It's not good to release them somewhere else," Gaber explained. "It's actually very cruel because these cats are in unknown territory."

Cost of this process is around $62 per cat. Members of the group pay for most of the cost out of their own pockets.

One local woman, Marian Harvey, has paid out of her own pocket for 150 cats to be neutered and vaccinated.

"There have been some donations," Gaber said. "It's amazing, the people who don't have much money are the ones who feed these kitties."

The goal, Gaber said, is to trap and neuter all the cats in the area. The cats will then be unable to reproduce and eventually die off. It's estimated that most of these feral cats only live 5-7 years.

"It is so important that people get their pets neutered," Gaber said. "It's very effective if pet owners neuter their pets or make sure that with reproduction all the kittens have homes."

The closing of the Putnam County Humane Society has not affected their goal whatsoever. With the Humane Society being a no-kill shelter, it would not take in feral cats.

The group is catching cats all over Putnam County. Members also make sure the cats are doing well after they are released by keeping a log and checking up on them on a regular basis.

A Haunted House fundraiser to benefit the effort is scheduled for Oct. 21 and 22 at S.P.O.T in Cloverdale. It will run from 7:30-11 p.m. and costs $5. The fundraiser will also include a bake sale.

For more information on the trap-neuter-release technique, visit www.alleycat.org.


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This is a great thing you are doing ladies! God bless you. I will tell everyone about the haunted house, good luck.

-- Posted by mad-mom on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 8:28 AM

Realeasing any domestic animal back into the wild is a very bad idea.These are "constant stalkers" killing for the fun of it.This is devistating to wild life. Any cat seen in the woods or fields should be killed on sight.They kill baby rabbits,quail and many other wild animals.Anyone who claims to be an animal lover should realize this.Rest assured we kill them on sight,as should any sportsman or animal promoter.

-- Posted by Ya THUNK on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 12:18 PM

Any cat seen in the woods should be shot? Since they kill baby rabbits and stuff? Than any hunter in the woods should be shot too if that's how your brain works. Since they kill animals. Ya THUNK, that was an ignorant statement.

-- Posted by tanne123 on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 1:04 PM

The group this article covers is called Charlie's Community Cats. We're a small group of men and women, including several volunteers from DePauw University, who help serve the stray and feral cat population in Putnam County. We would truly appreciate the support of the community--not even necessarily financial (although that would help!) but just the moral support for this important program. You can learn more about us on our Facebook page (search "Charlie's Community Cats") and you can find more information about humane trap/neuter/release programs at http://www.alleycat.org/ Thank you!

-- Posted by Friend to Animals on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 4:21 PM

@YaTHUNK: There are lots of creatures that kill others to eat. Should those all be killed, too? Ever noticed how many deer there are in Indiana, over-running the remaining forests and starving in the winter? That's because of the "Kill the Predators!" mentality that others shared with you. There has to be a balance.

-- Posted by PlatyPius on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 4:54 PM

PlatyPius,,You missed two VERY important points.You yourself said to EAT!Most cats kill for the fun of it,,not hunger,,,also,ferrel cats are NOT native to the natural wild life.

-- Posted by Ya THUNK on Sat, Oct 1, 2011, at 5:42 PM

Charlie's Community Cats offers a humane way to address the feral cats population without "killing them on sight." Part of our mission is to educate the public about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets, as much of the feral and stray cat population stems from residents letting their unaltered pets outside or dumping unwanted animals in other locations. Dumping unwanted cats elsewhere doesn't solve the problem, and certainly isn't humane. For those of us who care about these animals, this organization offers a means for taking care of an animal population that needs advocates. For those who, for whatever reason, do not want stray cats in the area, this organization provides a humane solution for decreasing the population. If you see a stray cat, Indiana law stipulates that you first attempt to locate the owner, and, if that fails, then you must contact the State Police about the animal. Killing on sight is not a legal option.

-- Posted by Friend to Animals on Sun, Oct 2, 2011, at 12:32 AM

I live in the city of Greencastle and I can't say how many cats or kittens that have been dumped in our neighborhood. These animals have set up home under my mini barn, they are in and out of the garage seeking food. The barn stinks from the cats and I don't like any part of it! Even the neighbors have cats they don't keep home, they must think (or not think) people want these animals in their flower beds and such-NOT. So I'm all for you catching the cats if you can but don't release it back on me. I would say you could most likely have these animals put down for 62 dollars and that sounds like a better answer.

-- Posted by Trying hard on Sun, Oct 2, 2011, at 11:10 AM

Catching and killing, or relocating, unwanted animals simply doesn't work because a vacuum is created. This is a documented phenomen in most animal species throughout the world. Once the cats are removed, other cats move in to take advantage of the newly available resources and breed a new colony. A persecuted species will have more litters with larger number of offspring. Catch and kill is an endless and costly cycle. Also, spay/neutering eliminates annoying behavior problems. Altered cats roam less, fight less, spray less. Females howl less. They stay closer to their food source so it is easier to protect them in the neighborhood feeding stations. No animal but man kills for the thrill of killing. No animal but man is cruel. Domesticated cats might remember how to kill a mouse, but they don't remember how to rip through the fur and eat the meat for one or two generations after being turned out. Charlie's Community Cats does not return cats who are sick, wounded, or incapable of living on the streets. I have a colony of over 30 cats, those who we have felt would not survive on the street. Free but protected. And....I did not pay for all 150 cats! We have had SPOT donations, individual donations...cat lady donations....cat by cat, using SpayNeuter services of Indiana/yard sales/can cashins....cat by cat. Those of us who rescue animals do so whether we have funding or not and I appreciate all the help we have received so far. Please feel free to contact us for further questions.....also...there are way over 500-600 homeless cats in Putnam County. That is my estimate for VanBibber neighborhood only......

-- Posted by harveymarian@yahoo.com on Sun, Oct 2, 2011, at 3:24 PM

Hey Ya THUNK I live in the woods, maybe a mile from my nearest neighbor but yet they have pet cats, and are responsible pet owners. Ya think I should I should kill my neighbors cats "on sight" if they are out and about? Get real, man. The whole issue is spay/neuter, Ya THUNK?

-- Posted by '74tiger on Sun, Oct 2, 2011, at 6:39 PM

We don't have to many feral cats around my rural area because we keep a few coyotes around to keep them in check. Coyotes feed on the same prey the cats do but they will eat a cat first. Use to be a bounty on coyotes $2 a set of ears. If you love cats keep all the coyotes away. If you don't like cats get you a dog that doesn't either. Tax the dogs, fund the humane shelter. Coyotes are still here after bounties, over hunting, and bad press. The feral cats will too!!

-- Posted by farmer on Sun, Oct 2, 2011, at 10:20 PM

Please note that this is not just one woman and "two friends" and this is not just ladies by any means. We are men and women from the community and/or involved in Depauw. We have several students helping and coordinating as well as the assistance of local police and administrators.

Killing these animals on-site is illegal as has already been mentioned.

S.P.O.T. is also part of our community and this effort and has been great.

Our facebook page is located here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Charlies-C...

Please join us and don't let the conversation die away! Many of the things that come up here must be discussed and a lot of the myths and misunderstandings must be dismantled for a healthy community.

-- Posted by AlexanderAlexander on Sun, Oct 2, 2011, at 11:41 PM

In the past we have called the sheriff about our neighbor's dogs being nuisances in our yard. He told us that if we are out of city limits (which we were) and the animal was on our property, that we could just shoot it. Is it really any different for cats?

-- Posted by bannerreader on Mon, Oct 3, 2011, at 1:02 AM

If people would spay and neuter their animals, there would be no problem here. Killing all the cats is not the answer nor is it right. To the misinformed people on here who think cats are "devastating to wild life"...its called the circle of life. Cats do serve a purpose. Would you like your home to be over run by mice or other rodents? Most people I know would not. Leave the cats alone unless they are personally bothering you. Since there is nothing interesting going on in town right now everyone has to start making ridiculous comments on some story. For living in a small town, where people are supposed to be more friendly than in the city, all you have to do is read the comments in the paper and you can see that is untrue.

-- Posted by ruserious25 on Mon, Oct 3, 2011, at 7:34 AM

@ Bannerreader and Ya Thunk:

Indiana law IC 35-46-3-12, "Torture or mutilation of a vertebrate animal; killing a domestic animal," states the following:

"A person who knowingly or intentionally kills a domestic animal without the consent of the owner of the domestic animal commits killing a domestic animal, a Class D felony."

When we spoke to the State Police, we were told that anyone who finds a stray animal on their property must first attempt to contact the owner. If that fails, then you must contact Animal Control. Since there is no Animal Control in Putnam County, then you must call the State Police and they will take care of the situation.

-- Posted by Friend to Animals on Mon, Oct 3, 2011, at 4:30 PM

Hmmm...humans also hunt for fun and are a non-native species. Perhaps people should be shot on sight? Cats are primarily rodent specialists. That is why they were prized and domesticated. Now we provide them with ample food, but many don't do the responsible thing by spaying and neutering them. So their population is out of control. Charlie's Community Cats should be applauded for stepping up. Killing cats is an inhumane and ineffective solution for the reasons mentioned (vacuum effect, chance of killing an owned cat, community opposition). Spay/neuter is the answer. SPOT spay/neuter clinic in Cloverdale offers a low-cost option with no income requirements, so there is really no excuse not to have your pet cat, barn cat, neighborhood cat, or feral cat spayed or neutered. Humane traps are available for a refundable deposit if the cats aren't able to be handled. With the humane society closing, groups like Charlie's Community Cats and SPOT are more important than ever. If you feed them, fix them!

-- Posted by Sugasquirrel on Tue, Oct 4, 2011, at 4:40 PM

Leave it to a few uneducated to ruin something good and decent in the paper.

I think what Charlie's is doing is wonderful and should be applauded!

You're not going to change the mind of a group of idiots who think killing animals is the reason guns were invented. It's best to ignore their ignorance.

-- Posted by Emmes on Wed, Oct 5, 2011, at 12:19 PM

Well said Emmes. I agree.

-- Posted by not a native on Thu, Oct 6, 2011, at 10:19 AM


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