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Shelter gives timely care for feral cats PDF  | Print |
By Kimberly K. Fu/Staff Writer



Judy Rapp, of Fairfield, gets ready to place a cat in a carrier to be taken to a recovery room during a feral cat clinic Sunday morning at the Solano County Animal Shelter in Fairfield. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter)

Fur flew Sunday at the Solano County Animal Shelter in Fairfield, but the 34 cats in question didn't mind. The anesthetized balls of fluff, all considered too unsocialized for human companionship, received significant medical treatments for a $15 fee during the day-long feral cat clinic.

The effort was designed to offer the cats a better quality of life in the wild while also humanely controlling the feral cat population, said Michelle Bartlett, a member of the Solano Feral Cat Trap-Neuter- Return Task Force.

"They'll live out their lives ... (and) their quality of life will be better," she said. "They're healthy, they're vaccinated."

Indeed, a sweet-faced black-and-white feline now has a fighting chance at life after clinic volunteers diagnosed her with pyometra, a serious uterine condition requiring the removal of her uterus and ovaries. She was shaved in preparation for surgery, and then rushed into the makeshift operating room.

"If she hadn't come here today, she could have died from this uterine infection,"" said Dr. Abbie Whitehead, DVM.

Had the cat not been treated, Whitehead said, she would likely have stopped eating and drinking, which would have ended the milk production for her kittens and, in essence, starve them.

Following the procedure, the cat was slated to receive the same treatments as the other ferals - sterilization, a rabies shot and vaccinations, flea treatment, dental exam, a check for other medical needs and an ear-notching to identify her as a medically-treated feral before her placement in the recovery room.

"It makes for a healthier population of animals," Whitehead said. "The problem is, no situation is perfect. TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return to colony) is the best solution for this problem."

The clinic and task force are dependent on public donations. A garage sale fundraiser is set for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 12 and 13 at 1230 Balsam Way in Vacaville. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to the Solano County Animal Rescue Foundation, 26090 County Road 34, Winters, CA 95694, re: Feral Cat Program. Donations of time, and items such as towels and food, are also welcomed.

For information, call the Feral Cat Hotline at 421-5515 or go online to www.solanoferals.org.

Kimberly K. Fu can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
 
Fixing ferals - Volunteers help cut down wild cat population PDF  | Print |
By Ian Thompson

FAIRFIELD - The unconscious long-haired Siamese feral cat came into the clinic in a blanket-covered pet carrier where a volunteer gently picked it up and placed it on the table to be examined.

Further down the table, another volunteer shaved a feral cat and prepared it for neutering, which was being done in an adjacent room.

Some of the Siamese's hair was matted and needed cleaning, volunteer Susan Hoffman said as she examined the cat - which was captured in Vallejo.

"She is a youngster and I think she was abandoned," Hoffman said. "This cat is adoptable."

The Siamese was one of three dozen feral cats examined, treated and spayed or neutered at the Solano County Animal Shelter by members and supporters of the Solano Feral Cat Trap-Neuter-Return Task Force.

The recent clinic was part of an effort by the task force to slowly reduce the number of feral cats in Solano County without having to euthanize them. Feral cats are those who have been without human contact for a prolonged period of time or were born in litters without human contact.

Cats at the clinic not only were spayed or neutered, but got vaccinated for rabies, treated for fleas, had their teeth examined and received a nose-to-tail medical checkup.

Just how many feral cats are in Solano County is hard to judge.

"You see them basically at night behind restaurants, shopping centers, apartments," said Michelle Bartlett, one of the task force's volunteers.

All Bartlett can agree to is that it there are a lot of them and their population is growing.

"It is because of cat reproduction rates. Cats can have five to six babies at a time with several litters a year." Bartlett said. "There are a lot of people who feed feral cats because they have compassion for them, but unfortunately they don't spay or neuter them."

Feral cats make up about 30 percent of all the animals that come to the animal shelter off of Claybank Road. Last year, the shelter took in about 5,567 cats - of which 1,779 were feral.

"It is always a one-way trip," Bartlett said. "There is no revolving door for them. They are not adoptable as pets because they are not socialized to people. They are not meant to be a pet cat."

Bartlett called trapping, spaying or neutering, and then returning the cats to their colonies "a humane solution to a human-caused problem - the public's inability to spay and neuter their pets."

The group established the clinic with veterinarians who volunteer their time because spaying and neutering costs a lot of money.

"Females can cost between $75 and $100, while males can cost $50," Bartlett said.

Donations from cat lovers cover the cost of some of the medicines and equipment.

The feral cat spay-and-neuter program as been going on for awhile and was partly inspired by a similar program centered in the East Bay called Fix Our Ferals.

Fix Our Ferals deals with about 150 feral cats a month and lowered the number of cats euthanized at the Berkeley animal shelter significantly.

Bartlett and other volunteers go to the feral cat colonies and remove any kittens under 12 weeks old, still young enough to be socialized to humans, to be adopted out as pets.

They also take strays, cats that only recently wandered away from their homes and joined the colony, but haven't become feral yet, and remove them for adoption.

"The only cats that remain in the colonies are the feral cats," Bartlett said.

Simply eradicating a colony doesn't work "because when you remove a colony, others will move in and continue to breed."

This allows the volunteers to monitor the colony, neuter any new ferals that show up and ensure the ferals remain healthy. With no new litters of kittens, the colony eventually dwindles to nothing.

Hoffman got involved with helping feral cats after she got tired of seeing feral cats dead in front of her Vallejo apartment after they were run over by cars.

"Vallejo is overrun by feral cats," Hoffman said.

She now oversees a couple of feral cat colonies in her neighborhood, getting them fed, removing any kittens for adoption and neutering them.

"I haven't had a feral kitten born on my block for several years," Hoffman said.

Not just content with feeding her feral charges, Hoffman occasionally puts out catnip and toys.

"They are now happy, healthy cats," Hoffman said.

Volunteer Deb Fasudo also joined up after she got tired of seeing sick cats dropped off near where she lived in Dixon.

She also feeds and observes several feral cat colonies there.

"I have only seen three pregnant females last year," Fasudo said. "Before, I had them all the time."

Solano County's Feral Cat program prepared for the recent clinic by laying three dozen traps in parts of the county where feral cats live.

At one such colony in Suisun City, an unneutered cat Bartlett hoped to trap the Saturday afternoon before the clinic simply refused to be caught. This was despite the tempting salmon that was put in the trap to entice the cat inside.

Bartlett waited in vain for the clang of metal that announced the trap's door had dropped shut.

Bartlett has paid out of her own pocket for years to spay and neuter feral cats, she estimates she has captured about 120 in the past five years.

The Suisun City colony is one of five such colonies in Fairfield and Suisun City that Bartlett monitors.

One of the other feral cats in the colony had wandered by earlier that afternoon, pausing to examine Bartlett, who pointed to its notched ear which meant that cat had already been fixed.

"It is a colony of 12 cats and we have fixed 10 of them so far," Bartlett said of the fairly young colony she has been working on for a month after her boyfriend discovered it.

By Sunday morning, Bartlett caught a feral cat for neutering, but not the one she wanted to catch. She hopes by the time the next clinic is organized, she will have that cat in hand.

Reach Ian Thompson at

427-6976 or

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Copyright ©2006 Daily Republic
 
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Clinic Dates

Clinic Dates:

July 1st FERALS

July 12th PETS  

 


BOOK APPOINTMENT

Cats are transported to and from their spay/neuter appointments by our volunteers.

PICK UP LOCATIONS

FAIRFIELD 530am

VACAVILLE 6am

DIXON 630am

Clinic Stats

Solano Feral Cat Group has altered:

4,602 feral cats through our own feral cat clinic!

1,516 through our Outreach Program! 

We rely 100%  on public donations to keep our program running!

Please make a tax deductible donation today!

Cat Rescue Award