Step 1: How I learned about community cat populations
Years ago, I worked part time at a veterinary clinic that happened to serve as the city’s animal control holding location. Occasionally, trapped feral cats would be brought in. They would spend a terrifying week at our clinic as we cared for them as best we could. When the holding period was up, they were euthanized, because they were unsocial and unadoptable. I once asked the lead veterinarian at the clinic, why don’t we just spay/neuter the cats and then put them back where they live. His answer was, “Because no one will pay for that.” How could they at $150 – 200 per cat?
Step 2: Solution
I am now the program coordinator for the Iowa Humane Alliance in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Our team operates the only full-time high-quality, low-cost, high-volume spay/neuter clinic in the state of Iowa. We have sterilized more that 44,000 animals since opening in 2013, with about 25 percent of those animals being community cats. In 2017 alone, we sterilized, vaccinated, and eartipped more than 2,500 community cats. I am proud to manage our outreach programs, which include the Iowa Trap-neuter-Return Assistance Program (I-TRAP). We offer resources for the public to safely and affordably TNR community cats in their areas. This fall we are offering several outreach events to increase our impact. We are hosting two Winter Care Workshops and the Feral Freedom Fest. The Winter Care Workshops are designed to be a gateway event to TNR while also sharing valuable information about how to help community cats survive the cold Iowa winters. The Feral Freedom Fest on October 20 is a celebration of all the hard work and progress that has been made for community cats. We will highlight the recent 2018 legislative successes with cities of Hiawatha, Vinton, and Fairfax all allowing citizens to Trap-Neuter-Return community cats. This event also raises money to support our Community Cat Fund (additional subsidies needed for some clients) and to buy live-humane traps for our trap rental program.
Step 3: Key Outcomes
By offering outreach events, advocating for TNR with local governments, and providing tangible resources and affordable services for community cats we are striving to help create a state where feral cats are valued and protected and where euthanasia is not used as a form of population control. There is more ground to gain, but we are hopeful that our current momentum will continue to build and the things will only get better for community cats in eastern Iowa.