To give you an idea of the feral cat problem consider that Humane Ohio in the last two years spayed or neutered 2,500 free roaming casts in East and South Toledo alone.
Had the agency’s free spaying and neutering program not been available it’s quite possible those 2,500 cats could have multiplied to more than 20,000.
Imagine the noise from mating, the stench from males spraying their territory, the flea infestation and the damage to the bird population.
|At a trailer court in Northwood, a group of stray cats find food
thanks to the kindness of a local resident. (Press photo by
Jill Borkowski, spokesperson for Humane Ohio, brought her message of the effects of irresponsible pet ownership to members of the East Toledo Club and the general public when she made a recent presentation at the Weber Block at the club’s monthly luncheon.
Borkowski said that two years ago Humane Ohio received a grant to offer free spaying and neutering services in two Toledo zip codes—43605 (East Toledo) and 43609 (South Toledo). In that time the agency fixed about 2,500 free roaming cats. Borkowski was pleased to announce the program, funded by PetSmart Charities, will continue for another two years.
That’s good news.
The program reduces the cat problem in a humane way. Borkowski said that 70 percent of all cats that enter a shelter are euthanized. In the two years since Humane Ohio started its free spaying and neutering program, The Toledo Humane Society saw its intake rate drop by 34 percent in 43605 and 50 percent in 43609.
“It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a humane one,” Borkowski said. “We found nationwide that study after study has shown that when we round up and euthanize free roaming cats, it’s very costly for the taxpayer to fund an agency to take on that responsibility.
“You can take all of the cats out of a neighborhood and euthanize them, but if people aren’t spaying and neutering their own cats and they’re letting them run out of doors and they’re abandoning them, they’re going to be back on the street breeding and reproducing. What study after study has shown is if you take cats out of an area there’s a vacuum effect where cats on the outskirts of that area see an area where there’s food and shelter and move into the vacuum.”
If you have a feral cat problem in your neighborhood, Borkowski offers some tips to discourage cats from using your garden as a litter box, attacking your birds or spraying your bushes. She says there are a number of commercial sprays available at pet supply stores or you can use natural deterrents such as citrus peels, cayenne pepper, coffee grounds or lavender oil. Many other tips are listed on the Humane Ohio website.
Humane Ohio has fixed some 60,000 pets and feral cats since 2006. If you live outside the 43605 or 43609 zip codes. You can take in a free roaming cat and get it fixed for $25. If you own the cat, it’s $45. Rates for dogs vary from $65 to $110.
If you want to help control the feral cat population in your neighborhood, Humane Ohio provides free traps and instructions for you to catch cats and bring them to their clinic located at 3131 Tremainsville in Toledo. There is a $45 deposit on the trap, fully refundable when the trap is returned.
Feral cats that have been fixed have their left ear clipped to alert animal control and potential caregivers not to bother trapping them.
Borkowski says the organization is also trying to limit the number of pets abandoned during these difficult financial times. The organization distributed 71,000 pounds of pet food in 2011 to families struggling financially to take care of their pets, or to those who have volunteered to feed feral cats.
Humane Ohio also provides discounted vaccination services.
The organization is currently holding its annual Pet Photos with Santa fundraiser. The dates are Saturday, December 1 (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at Pet Supplies Plus on Alexis in Toledo and Sunday, Dec. 2 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at the Central Ave. store. No appointment needed.