Don’t look away: how to reduce the feral cat population

When I volunteered for the Columbia Gorge Cat Rescue (CGCR), I was prepared to see the sad consequences of people’s indifference to the suffering of animals. And I have.

What I didn’t expect to see was the flip side to that indifference, which is an abundance of kindness.

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Columbia Gorge Cat Rescue holds a donation-based clinic each week, where feral cats are vaccinated, treated for parasites, and spayed or neutered. Donations are being sought to help sustain the program.

And it’s not just the stereotypical crazy cat lady — it’s young men working in the orchards, it’s people helping an elderly neighbor, it’s a woman renting a house whose previous renters abandoned their cats, or it’s a young girl whose father rescued an injured cat.

It’s people of all ages, incomes, and points of view who have taken it upon themselves to help not only the cats from certain suffering, but to help neighbors and strangers in our community.

People who didn’t look the other way.

It’s not easy trapping or capturing a frightened feral cat, but denial doesn’t make it better. It makes it worse. Did you know an average cat has one to eight kittens per litter and two to three litters per year? During her productive life, one female cat could have more than 100 kittens. And a kitten can reach puberty as early as 4 months and the cycle continues. You do the math.

When these cats are brought to the CGCR Clinic held about once a week at the Lyle Activity Center, they are vaccinated, treated for parasites, and spayed or neutered. The clinic is donation-based, so these homeless cats are treated regardless of income.

It costs approximately $50 to spay and vaccinate a cat. On a typical clinic day, there are usually 15-20 cats. Donations are not only appreciated, they sustain the program.

Adults are typically returned to their caregivers. When there are kittens, they are often placed in foster homes where, thanks to the kindness of volunteers, they are socialized in preparation for CGCR adoption program.

Truth is not all the cats find homes. Some are simply too wild, or feral, as they are called. For those cats, their survival depends on the kindness of people to provide them with some sort shelter and food.

Ideally, the cats are returned to their original territory to live out their lives. This is call TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release.) This program is not without its critics, but it’s been shown to be the most compassionate approach/solution to feral and stray cat overpopulation. However, my point is not to argue the merits of caring for over killing, it is to say looking the other way is not a solution. Also, when a friendly adult cat has been living where a caregiver has been feeding it and seeing to its needs, it is usually better for the cat to stay in that situation.

How to help

The first step to getting a cat or cats help is to go online to www.gorgecat.org and to fill out an online spay/neuter appointment form. A clinic scheduler will contact you within 24 hours to schedule your appointment.

We lend out humane live traps for a deposit and will show you how to use it when you pick it. We generally do not have volunteers who are able trap, but we help in any way possible.

We are entering kitten season, so the sooner you can take action, the better. Contact us at www.gorgecat.org and be part of the solution. Be kind and don’t look the other way.

CGCR is donation-based non-profit all-volunteer organization.



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