04 April 2010
On Feb 20th, I was already resigned to the fact that there would be little celebrating for me. Between trapping the previous night, teaching the TNR class and trapping that night for the monthly feral clinic, I knew I wouldn't have time for a usual birthday celebration. Sleeping late on Sat seemed to be a good compromise to having a full-on party and doing nothing at all. Around 0930 my phone rang and I decided I had better see who was expecting me to be out of bed. It turned out to be Tricia to report and seek advice for how to deal with a sticky situation. At the location where they were trapping, they had discovered three tiny 2-4 day old kittens in a storage closet. The momma cat was around but Tricia wasn't sure of how to proceed. Should she scoop up the kittens? Should she leave them alone? Or attempt to use them as bait to trap momma?

Each decision seemed fraught with possible bad outcomes. If she took the kittens on, someone was going to be stuck nurse maiding them and they would have little hope for survival. If she let them be, there was no guarantee that we could trap momma or that momma would not move them to another location. If we moved them, momma might abandon them! Tricia's initial instinct was to leave everything alone and give the kittens a chance to grow. I called Bobbi K. and she advised using them as bait by placing them into on trap, and butting that trap up against a second trap so that momma would have to walk through the trap to get to them. I explained what to do and Tricia gamely moved the little ones into a small box and placed them into a trap. At the same time, she made a grisly discovery, a mummified kitten carcass!

As soon as I got off of the phone with her, I regretted having her move the kittens. What if we couldn't trap momma? What if she wouldn't nurse the kittens after being trapped? I called Trish back and told her of my plan to go teach the class while she and Trudi finished trapping at the site. She asked me if I would come by to help them out first and I said that I did not have the time. Hearing the disappoint in her voice, and I decided that it was unfair for me to expect them deal with this new and frightening situation without being involved . I started working the phones to see if I could find someone who was willing to foster the kittens. Darci from All Fur Love Society agreed to take on the huge responsibility of caring for momma and kittens. I called Bobbi to see if she could come down later and decided that I would go by the site on my way to the training class and help however I could.

I quickly packed up and headed out. When I arrived, Trudi and Trish we're staking out a number of traps in the front and back yard and anxiously looking for momma to see if she would enter the storage closet through the cat door that the caretaker had installed. They had trapped 6 or 7 cats already. Momma watched us warily and would not go into the closet. I decided to take a peak and make sure that the trap with the kittens was setup correctly. I entered the closet and noticed that two cats were hiding in the corner. I inspected the trap setup and found that it was incorrect. The small box containing the kittens was inside of the trap meant for momma. Had she entered this trap, the tiny kittens would be in danger if a panicked, trapped mother trampled them in an attempt to escape.

Moving as calmly and as quietly as possible so as not to disturb the cats who were hiding out ( I planned to wrangle them with a net or noose pole) I rearranged the trap setup. Trish made a commotion at the door and one of the cats ran out. I indicated for her to be quiet and continued setting up the trap. Once I was satisfied that the new setup would work, I retrieved the noose pole from the truck. Trudi used a trap to block the only escape route, and I used the noose pole to prod the cat into the trap. Once trapped we went back to waiting for momma.

I left to teach the class and later received a call that Bobbie was able to trap the mother by having Trudi block the cat door with a trap while Bobbi shooed her out. Bobbi delivered the kittens and momma to Darci who set them up in a large kennel. Hearing the news, I thought, "What a great present! Saving three kittens, and successfully capturing the mother."

Over the next few days, joy turned to disappointment as two of the three kittens died because momma had stopped caring for them. Darci took the final kitten away from momma and began bottle feeding it herself. Despite the heartache, Darci gamely continued to care for the little one she named "Miracle". Yesterday I got to see him play with him, and I thought, that despite the losses, it still turned out to be a good, if belated birthday present!
26 March 2010

In Nov 2008, I got bitten by a dog named Scratch. I usually joke that it's ironic, or maybe moronic! Here's the notes from my journal about that day.

Scratch-When I brought Ginny back in I noticed a little blood coming from her nose. Cindy was feeding the dogs on the row with the cart a couple of kennels down from Scratch. I tell her about Ginny ramming her nose into the gate and the blood and ask if she will have Karen look at it. She says OK and I go back to Scratch's kennel. He is very excited. I give him a sit command and hand signal but he ignores it. I wait for a minute to see if he will comply but he does not. I decide to go in and as soon as I open the door he rushes out in an attempt to get around me. Instinctively I reach down to prevent him from escaping. For some reason I do not cuff him as I probably should to maintain control of his head. I don't know if it's because I fear his strength and dominance or if I'm trying not to let this escalate. He has maneuvered now so that his head is facing towards the kennel. I am positioned over him and I use my left arm to cradle his butt to prevent him from moving. Something about being restrained in this position makes him very tense and he lets out a terrible sound like I've just stepped on his tail. I look to ensure that in fact I am not on stepping on him at all. He has now warned me that he is extremely agitated. Focused on the single minded goal of not letting him get out of my control I persist in attempting to restrain him using minimal force and get him back inside of the kennel. 

I watch in the sort of detached way that only someone pumped on adrenaline can as he takes  my forearm into his mouth and clamps down exactly like you'd imagine a dog that was bred over centuries to bite and hold things. I remember watching him shake his head back and forth while I vainly attempted to retrieve my arm and thinking, “Wow, that's really going to hurt later!” At some point he released the grip on my forearm leaving four major punctures and one minor one in my fore arm. You would think that any person with sense would ensure that they protected their limbs at this point, but the adrenaline and the single minded focus of not letting him escape made me stupid. He got a second bite with his teeth around my thumb causing a major puncture on my hand above my wrist, and a smaller puncture through the web of skin between the thumb and index finger. His finally bite causes three punctures on my hand with two to the base of the index finger and a third between the index and middle finger. As this scenario played out, Cindy observed intently from behind her cart but made no move to intervene. I was not disappointed by this as I saw no reason for someone else to get hurt. Even after watching my forearm and hand being chomped on I remained incredibly calm. When Scratch finally relinquished my hand, I backed into his kennel holding my bleeding arm high in the air. He turned to flee down the row but Cindy was quick with the cart and blocked his path. He looked back at me in confusion. Blood oozing out from several deep wounds I sat down low in the kennel and called Scratch back to me. He walked into the kennel and I stood up, exited and closed the gate behind me. Cindy looked at me and asked how bad it was. I held my arm up and showed her, blood dripping onto the floor. We made our way towards Karin's office and she said, “I'm sorry for not helping out back there, but...” She held up her forearms to show the scars from what looked like a devastating mauling she had received in the past. I replied, “No problem! You did exactly what needed to be done by blocking his escape! You saw how he came back to me, I should have just let him out and then called him back in!”

I look at the blood oozing from my hand and for a brief instance I feel woozy like I'm going to faint. The feeling passed and as we approached Kathy's kennel, she somehow managed to open her door and came barreling down the row. Fortuitously, for some reason, I still had the 6' black nylon lead in left hand. I thrust the lead out in front of me and Kathy, true to form, takes it into her mouth. I use her grip to force her back into her kennel, abandon the lead, and shut the door. Are the prisoners revolting?

In Karin's office I mix up some betadine and water. Cindy gets me some towels and I proceed to clean up. Still in shock and disbelief, I think to myself it's not that bad. Karin comes in and I let her know what happened claiming it to be my fault and not Scratch's. I think maybe I can get by with not going to the ER. Most of the wounds don't look too bad, but the one near my wrist is quite deep. It looks like it should get a closure. I show it to Karin and say I think I am going to the Quickcare. She says that if that is the case, I need to speak with Julie and a report with animal control must be filed and Scratch must go into quarantine. I hate for all of this to happen but I need to get medical attention.

Julie says she must look up what hospital I need to go to be covered by the shelter's insurance. I tell her that I have insurance and I could go to the Quickcare. She agrees that this would be helpful. We fill out an incident report and they take Scratch out of adoptions and put him in quarantine. On my way out I see Adam and Kay and show them my arm and relate the story. I reiterate how I think it is my fault and how it escalated out of control and how I should have backed off sooner. I show them my wound of concern and say I'd rather not go but I think it needs a stitch.

In the car I snap a couple of photos and shoot a short bit of video to commemorate the moment. On the way to the Quickcare, an officer from Animal Control calls and asks where I am going to be treated, and I tell her which UMC office I am going to. She tells me to have them contact Animal Control once I get seen. She asks if I have a pen but I say I have the number on my cell. At the Quickcare office I sign in using my left hand. Not noticing that the first line is for last names, I have scribbled my first. I write my last name on the next line and pass the sign in sheet back to the secretary.

Sorry,” I quip, “It's kind of illegible. I had to write it with left hand because my right hand is like this!” I thrust my arm out and showed her my hand. Though I had cleaned it at the shelter, fresh blood had oozed from all of the wounds and covered my lower arm and my pants. “Oh God,” she said, “What happened to you.” She processed me pretty quickly but we had to wait a little while for the nurse to come and get me. Vitals were good (BP 119/78). She filled out the report for animal control. I told her about their request that they be contacted. She said she would not call, but would fax the report. A second nurse came who cleaned my wounds with a betadine solution and then had me soak my arm while I waited for the doctor. I voiced my opinion that I would need a stitch. She said dog bites were considered “dirty wounds” so they did not use sutures. She asked me about the level of pain and I said three. I had to wait for quite a while (30 minutes maybe?) but it was good cause I soaked in the betadine for all of this time. The doctor came in, we went over what happened and she explained that they did not cover or dress dog bites at all. I showed her my wrist and she said that they might put a steri-strip on it to close it. She asked me about pain and I again said three. She said I have a high tolerance to pain. She prescribed some pain pills (Lortab?) and Augmentin (amoxicillin antibiotic). I waited a little while and she returned with a male doctor. He looked at my hand and said yes to the steri strip. The nurse returned, closed the wound on my wrist with the strip and discharged me. I explained to her about the Animal Control officer wanting to speak to someone. She offered to if I could get them on the line. I called the number but it started me into voice menu hell. I waited on hold for a moment and then decided that they would get the faxed report.

I made my way to the pharmacy, my uncovered wounds oozing blood. I went home, called the shelter and left a message for Julie at the main number. I called Julie/Connie's number and Karin answered. I updated her about my condition. The next two days my hand was very sore and swollen. While post adrenaline pain scale was three, on the next day it was closer to six or seven! My forearm and hand felt like someone had taken a bat and struck it several times while it rested on a block of concrete. On Wed I mostly rested. Julie called me on Wed but I missed her call. I called Connie and updated her on my condition. She asked whether I would be able to take Bea to her last class. She offered to get someone else to do it, but I told her I would be OK by then. I did not want to miss that day for anything! She tells me Scratch is still in quarantine, but that the visit from AC was perfunctory and that no further action would be taken against Scratch! Good deal!

Typing or walking dogs is out of the question as my hand is swollen and oozing and I can barely use it for anything. Thursday it is a little better, but still too painful to type. Up early I buy into a $24 + 2 Knockout NLH tournament with 542 players at 6:00 AM using my left hand with the mouse. Hopped up on Lortabs, I show the requisite amount of aggressiveness to scoop up blinds when necessary to stay ahead of the curve. Unusually, I never end up having to make decisions that jeopardize my stack. At one point a couple of hours in I make a bad call, but it's not enough to cripple me. I manage to come back and after three hours I am solidly in the money and looking better all of the time. It gets down to the final 9 players and I have a pretty average chip stack. I am writing an email to Jayme to tell her what is going on since she is on the phone when two other players go all-in. I call and knock them both out. It is now 7-handed and I am the chip leader. I use my big stack to bash the other players into submission one by one. Heads up the lead slips away with one bad call, but I manage to come back and win. $2700 for first place plus 12 knockouts at $4 a pop. Yea! My first tournament win over three figures! Thanks Scratch!

Scratch POSTMORTEM – With a couple of weeks of reflection, I think I have now pieced together the many mistakes that have led to minor tragedy. The Saturday before this event occurred, I had been working with Scratch in the courtyard with sit-stays off leash. This was the first time I had ever used treats with Scratch and the transformation was incredible. The strongest and nearly most stubborn dog that I know who won't walk right, sit look when his name is called suddenly becomes the most obedient dog in the world. I would put him into a sit, (oftentimes right in front of the glass doors so he could see people coming and going through the lobby) drop the lead and walk away from him. He would hold his stay even with distraction, and when I released him (usually from a distance) he would bound excitedly towards me receive his tiny bit of chicken. We spent a good amount of time practicing this and he never seemed to tire of performing this act.

Fast forward to Tue. I go to his kennel and try to get him to sit. He ignores me. He's thinking, “Hey, here's the chicken guy! I loved that game we were playing! Run at the chicken guy and get the treat! Yeah! I love the chicken guy! OK, kennel door is open, run at the chicken guy!“ So here he is, running at me expecting to get treated, He was happy and excited ,but now he's being restrained in a way he does not like and the chicken man is showing anxiety and maybe a little fear. He lets out a whelp to show his dismay at being trapped. The chicken man momentarily relents, but then goes back to forcing him back into his kennel. The more the chicken man pushes, the more he resists. Finally, he has had enough. The other dogs are extremely upset and barking. The chicken man is also agitated. The woman with the food cart is also agitated. Cornered and frightened, he decides that if the chicken man will not release him, he will grab the chicken man. Instincts take over he bites down on the chicken man's forearm. The chicken man attempts to free his arm but his pathetic attempts at pulling are little match for the gripping power selected and bred for by generation after generation. He shakes the forearm violently and for a moment, the man is able to free his arm, but a quick bite secures the hand by the thumb. Less secure this grip is momentary but he is able to snap the man yet again on the index finger, before the man retreats back into his kennel holding his bleeding hand above his head. Standing on the row no longer gripping the man's arm, Scratch realizes that he is free. He starts down the row but the food woman shoves her cart rudely in his face. He backs away and hearing his name called he looks back at the kennel and sees the chicken man kneeling holding his left down to the ground invitingly and calling him. He races into the kennel and the man walks out. What the hell was all of that about? All I wanted was chicken treat. A few minutes later the vet tech comes and gets him using one of the nylon leads. He is moved from his kennel to a different one where no prospective adopters can see him. There is tension now whenever any of the staff comes around.

  1. Should have never let him barrel out of kennel. (claiming territory).

  2. Should have scruffed him to control head and body.

  3. Should have backed off when he whelped.

  4. Should have protected extremities to prevent bite.

When Scratch got released from quarantine, I felt terrible. The staff now feared him and his profile was updated to indicate that he had bitten someone. I told the dog manager Dwayne that I understood the mistakes I had made and that I wanted to continue working with Scratch. He told me as long as I wasn't afraid, he had no problem with me walking Scratch. He is still at the NSPCA, and he is still one of my favorite doggies! I would so much like to get him a forever home!

22 March 2010

Last Oct. I placed a left a trap in what I considered to be a secure area. Surrounded by a fence and a locked gate, I was sure that any trap I left there would be undisturbed. After about 45 minutes of trapping at other sites nearby, we checked the trap and I discovered a pissed-off soaking wet feral kitten. A nearby sprinkler had drenched him and the trap cover. We transferred him to a dry trap and Joe took him home to warm up. What might his fate have been had I decided to leave the trap out all night? At best he would have been sick, at worst he could have died from hypothermia!

I often use this as a cautionary tale about leaving traps unattended for long periods of time. Unfortunately, now I have an even more convincing story. A few months ago, I warned a trapper about leaving traps even in a "secure" area, as I told her we can never anticipate what might happen while we are away. She assured me that she had done it lots of times and that there was enough physical security to prevent the traps from being disturbed. On sun morning she checked her traps to discover a cat  that had been killed by dogs. If you arm a trap and leave it somewhere, what happens to the cat is your responsibility! Helpless inside the trap, I can only imagine the terror the cat went through while being killed. Do yourself and the cats a favor and don't leave traps unattended!
11 March 2010

 This is my story and I'm sticking to it!

 I started volunteering at the NSPCA in the fall of 2008. There were a large number of feral cats living around the shelter and at several other colonies located between Decatur/Arville and Russell/Hacienda. In the spring of 2009, I saw an ever increasing number of kittens and juveniles roaming around. I quickly made the connection between these feral cats breeding out of control, the overburdened NSPCA shelter, and the high number of cats being surrendered and euthanized in Las Vegas annually. I learned about the county's 10.06 ordinance and another volunteer and I decided to Trap Neuter Return the cats ourselves. We methodically catalogued the cats, where they were being fed and made contacts with the caretakers and property owners. Between 4 different sites, nearly 90 cats roamed and fed from an ample supply of food! Borrowing traps we captured and sterilized 3 cats for the July 2009 HCWS feral clinic. 
 By Oct of 2009, we had trapped some sixty cats from around the area. A couple had been previously sterilized. Six were fostered, then sterilized and eventually adopted. The other 54 cats who were trapped and released pushed the local sterilization rate to what I estimate to be over 60%. Between Oct. and Feb, we sterilized an additional 20 cats in the area pushing the rate above 80%. I only know of 4 kittens in the areas colonies which survived since Oct. Three were trapped and sterilized and one was rescued by a person who works in the area. I believe this demonstrates why TNR is effective. Yes, there were two mothers left producing kittens, and newcomers move in from other areas, but they and their offspring have to compete with the existing 60 - 70 sterilized cats for food and habitat. 

Had we removed more of these cats, but not removed the food sources, the remaining cats would have had less competition and would have breed more prolifically to close the gap. The cat population in the area is noticably less than it was last summer. I hope to see far less if not zero litters of kittens finding their way into the NSPCA or Lied from this area this spring and summer. I also hope that this demonstrates that a small group of people can have a large impact on the number of kittens being born in an area in a relatively short time through targeted Trap Neuter Return.

My goal as President of the newly formed group, Community Cat Coalition of Clark County, or 'C5', is to educate and inform and more people to help themselves with feral cat issues. We hold a biweekly Introduction to TNR class at the HCWS clinic on Sat, from 12-2 PM to inform people, mostly colony caretakers about local cat ordinances and how to humanely and safely, trap, stage and transport cats. 

02 March 2010
A couple of days ago there was an accident at Keith's house. One of the cats got out of it's trap. It dashed out the door when Debbie opened the garage. I had one escape in my garage a couple of months ago. The poor cat leaped onto anything and everything, including a mounted boar head that belonged to my dad! My wife thought it was a great adventure wielding my net like she was on safari.  Heart racing and me shrieking at my wife to watch out, I managed to wrangle her with my noose pole and get her back into the trap. Since that time, my loose policy has been to never open the garage door until I've verified that everyone one is there. Of course, it helps to make sure the traps are really latched shut in the first place :-0

Keith and I were discussing this today and he told me that he had ordered 200 carabiners from Tru Catch to put 2 on each trap. Securing both doors for every trap all of the time seemed excessive to me. That is until I got home from the clinic.I had a row of five traps towards the front and a row of three in the back. While traveling, I usually cover the whole thing with a large moving blanket since my back window doesn't roll up :-0  I opened the tail gate and pulled the moving blanket off. I grabbed the middle trap and it felt too light. I peeked under the trap cover and the trap was empty! I looked up and had to do a double take to actually believe what I was seeing. The big black and white male from one of my sites was sitting directly behind the trap! When he saw me he sprung into the driver cab area. 

I figured he would try to hide up there but I worried because he could get out my back window. I draped the moving blanket over the back and ran inside to get my wife. I yelled that I needed her help and dashed back outside. The blanket had fallen down and I replaced it. Realizing she was not coming out, I went back inside and told her what was going on.

We both came out and formulated a plan. I entered the back while she held up the blanket to block the back window. The cat was hiding in front of the driver's seat. I retrieved my noose pole from the front seat and attempted to cover him with a blanket. He went wild and started running across the dash attempting to get out through the closed windows.  The interior of the truck was becoming quite warm and he was panting.  I managed to get the noose pole on his neck and secure him while Jayme unloaded the other cats. I got him into my net and then scruffed him through it. I managed to get a hold of him and release the net. He was rather limp until right before I attempted to push him into the trap. A sudden and powerful squirm and he almost got our of my control! I got him into the trap and shut the door.

 I hate handling feral cats in any other manner than carrying them in a trap! The only time I want to touch a feral is when they are either unconscious from being sedated, or when they are waking up and still loopy. I'm told my friend the other day that I'm more comfortable handling a mastiff with a bad attitude than a feral kitten! She of course told me she rather handle a feral cat than a friendly dog!

I don't know how he got out of the trap. I suspect that when I put the trap in, the rings caught on another trap and were held up high enough for him to force his way out. Fortunately the blanket contained him, otherwise he might have gotten out while I was driving down the freeway! I poke fun at Joe H. because he always zip ties every trap shut. He does this because he lost a cat while driving once. I now understand his paranoia! Either bungees or carabiners seem in order for every trap, especially during transport and staging.

28 February 2010

I found out about this event when I trapped some cats at the Enterprise Library. I applied for a table (the price was right $0) and when she heard about what we do, she immediately agreed to make sure we got a space. The weather forecast was dicey but I loaded up the truck with the drop trap, 4 traps, a trap isolator, class fliers,  a donation jar, and all of my trapping junk for show and tell. I stopped by Keith's and grabbed a couple of his saw horses. The library had plenty of young people to help me roll the trap dolly and all of my stuff to the table.

 Wendy showed up and helped talk to people and took some great photographs. The majority of people there had dogs, and most of the vendors were dog oriented but overwhelmingly people were sympathetic about the number of cats being euthanized annually. I got a few email addresses and chatted up the ordinance and the class, and chatted down trapping and euthanizing cats.  A brief but intense rain shower drove most of the attendees and vendors away around 12:30. I decided to pack up call it a day. A few people donated a little cash and one of our patrons cut us a nice check which I appreciate immensely! I look forward to doing more events like this to spread the word about community cat overpopulation and to empower more people to help themselves!
26 February 2010

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein, (attributed) US (German-born) physicist (1879 - 1955)
 Someone recently commented on another posting that I wrote. Their comment and my response follow.

 "Most if not damn near all feral cat supports refuse to listen to reason much less acknowledge all the environmental damage feral cats do. They do spread all kinds of diseases and parasites, kill native wild life, push out native predators, dig in gardens and sandbox were kids play and leave behind cat crap that carries all kinds of pathogens.

Feral cats are pests, nuisances, and a danger to native wild life and feral cat colonies shouldn't be support. They need to be wiped out." - Anonymous

These are all valid concerns and should not be ignored, but when you say they need to be wiped out, you propose something that is clearly not possible! If you want to change the law so that it's legal to shoot or poison or do whatever it is you want to wipe the cats, go ahead! Until that time, we will continue to use the only legal and proven method to reduce the cat population.

Even if you could implement some fantasy solution it would not work. You could poison, shoot and trap them but you will never get them all. People will always find ways to feed cats and in a short period of time, you'll be back to being overrun by cats!

You can complain all you want or you can actually do something effective to control the population! Wishing for the cats to go away or bemoaning the fact that they kill wildlife will not help get rid of them. Trapping and killing them may reduce the population at one place temporarily, but as long as cats are reproducing in others it's like trying to empty a bathtub with a teaspoon while the faucet is running
So what is the the solution? Solving the problem with mass eradication techniques like poisoning, trapping, using dogs, etc. would only be effective in a small isolated geographical area like an island. Trying the techniques anywhere in Las Vegas would be too expensive, politically unpopular, and for the most part illegal. Once you've cleared an area of cats, new ones will simply move in. So instead of any organized, concentrated effort to deal with the problem, we have citizens trapping nuisance cats all over the city and having them destroyed at taxpayer expense. Some 18,000 plus cats were euthanized in Clark County in 2008. Imagine if 12,000 of these animals were nuisance community cats. With a population of 200,000 community cats in the valley, how long does it take for the remaining 188,000 cats to replace those 12,000 through breeding? A couple of weeks?!?!? Show me the neighborhood, business or area in town that is free from feral cats because of trapping and having them removed.

What if instead of destroying these animals, we sterilized them and returned them to the streets? Combined with the 7000+ Trap Neuter Returns being done by local volunteers and non-profits, there would be 10% of the population that was sterilized. We'd start to reach the 20,000 to 25,000 community cat sterilizations needed to really start to curbing the free-roaming cat population growth. The alternative? Continue to dump money into an endless pit and continue to drown in cats! Destroying these animals is waste of taxpayer resources!  If the approach had any hope of working, stray/feral intakes at the shelter would not be continuing to rise at the alarming rate that they are!

The concept behind TNR is simple. Trap and remove the animal, and unsterilized animals will breed and replace that animal easily because there is less competition for food, shelter, habitat etc. Trap and sterilize an animal, and now the remaining unsterilized cats have to compete with the sterilized one for resources. Sterilize a significant portion in one area and the growth rate will slow. Sterilize enough animals in one area and the population will decline over time. Any unsterilized newcomers have to compete with the sterilized cats. I tell people that have a lot of cats around that they are going to be there anyways. Would you rather have sterilized ones that don't fight, spray, yowl in heat etc. or have kittens? Or would you rather have unsterilized cats moving into the habitat you conveniently provided for them by removing their competition?

Between Mar 2009 - Jul 2009 there were two approximately two dozen new litters of kittens born near the shelter where I volunteer. Many people were feeding the cats but few of them were sterilized. These kittens found there way into the shelter by people who had found theme. Many were sickly, many died, but many made their way into an already overburdened adoption program. Many were added to the existing cat population. I quickly made the connection between these feral cats breeding out of control, the mountain of cats at the shelter, and the embarrassing euthanasia and return rate this city has for cats.
Everyone in the area complained about the cats and the large number of kittens, but no one wanted to take responsibility for them. Property owners were victims and could do nothing but ask to have the cats removed and complain about the pests like bugs and birds which feasted on the food left by sloppy caretakers. Clark County Animal Control has neither the staffing nor mandate to trap cats. Caretakers had all manner of excuses. They were too busy, too poor, didn't have traps etc. to properly manage them. I learned about the county's 10.06 ordinance and decided to TNR the cats myself. I methodically cataloged the cats, where they were being fed and made contacts with the caretakers, property owners, and people who work and see the cats each day. Between 4 different sites, nearly 90 cats roamed and fed from an ample supply of food provided by caretakers who in many instances did not even know other people were feeding the same cats!

Borrowing traps and using spay/neuter slots paid for by donations or county grant money,  I trapped and sterilized 3 cats at the monthly July HCWS feral clinic.

In Aug, I trapped 11, and followed on with 4 or 5 cats in weekly slots. In Sep, I trapped 22 for the clinic and followed on with another 9 that week. In Oct. we delivered another 14. At this point we had fixed nearly 60 cats and a significant percentage of the cats, 66% had been sterilized or removed to be adopted.

We have continued to trap the holdouts over the intervening months at this point have TNR'd nearly 70 cats and removed 7 for adoption. Since Oct. Only three kittens have survived and all three have been sterilized and returned. There are still viable male and female cats in the population, but they must compete with the 60+ cats that have been sterilized! This spring and summer we will see, but my trapping partner and I notice that there are visibly less cats than there were last year. There is no magic cure all for this problem but removing the cats provides only a very temporary fix. I must continually monitor and trap newcomers, but the same would be true if the cats had been removed. At least now, I can be assured that these newcomers have to compete with all of the fixed cats in the area for food!

Clearly I would not have invested the time and effort into this project, if the cats were going to be removed and destroyed? Nor would any of the people that helped me. We do a service for the community and save the taxpayers lots of money. How many kittens have we prevented from needlessly ending up at Lied to be euthanized at taxpayer cost? Support Trap Neuter Return, because whether you love them or hate them, we all want less cats!