Local group started to tackle feral cat problem

‘When it comes to cat control, the trap-neuter-return program is the most humane one'

Published on March 3, 2014
Faith Shearer, president and treasurer of the new Colchester's Castaway Cats, holds up the group's logo. The group started at the end of December and is looking at a trap-neuter-return program for feral cats in Truro and surrounding areas, such as Bible Hill.
Raissa Tetanish - Truro Daily News

TRURO - Animal lovers, including veterinarians, are coming together to form a new trap-neuter-return program to try and combat the feral cat problem in the area.

Faith Shearer said Colchester's Castaway Cats was formed at the end of December with the hopes of registering as a society in the very near future.

"Even as a child I wanted to be a veterinarian," said Shearer. "I wanted to spay and neuter cats and dogs for free."

It was about a year ago that Shearer, an owner of three cats, wanted to form a Truro chapter of Cat Rescue Maritimes, or ca-r-ma, however there wasn't enough interest.

"I really wished I could have started a Truro chapter. This feels like what I'm supposed to do," Shearer said.

The animal lover said she knew of Truro Veterinary Hospital's Dr. Gwen Mowbray-Cashen and her desire for a trap, neuter, return program, and soon joined forces with the veterinary hospital owner, as well as veterinarians at other local clinics.

"I'm worried that the municipality will implement a policy such as in other counties, like a catch-kill policy," said Shearer.

She said a catch-kill policy doesn't actually help deter the feral cat problem, but instead creates a vacuum effect.

"It doesn't permanently clear the area of feral cats," she explained. "Cats move in colonies and to do something like that, you probably wouldn't get all the cats. If you do happen to trap them and kill them all, you're just going to have cats from other places move in."

Mowbray-Cashen volunteers at the Colchester SPCA and sees all the cats that call the shelter home.

"There is a never end to the cats that come in and each have their own story," she said. "Some are stray kittens that would become stray cats if someone doesn't stop the cycle. We need something to try to get to the root of the problem."

The veterinarian hopes this new group will help "motivate the powers that be" to help with cat control.

"When it comes to cat control, the trap-neuter-return program is the most humane one. There are certain counties that have programs where they trap the cat and try to rehome them, but if they can't, the cat will be put to sleep. The problem is that there will always be someone who won't spay or neuter their cat, so it's like a vacuum effect."

Mowbray-Cashen said veterinarians, such as herself, try to keep spay and neuter pricing as low as possible for customers, however, neutering an immature cat is $100, while spaying an immature is $165.

"For veterinarians in a private enterprise, when we spay and neuter an animal, we're not doing it at much of a profit," she said.

Through Colchester's Castaway Cats, Mowbray-Cashen said she and the two other veterinarian practices in the area are on board.

"We're providing professional support for the first year of the program to hopefully get things off the ground," she said.

In Truro and the surrounding area, both Shearer and Mowbray-Cashen said there are certain spots where feral cats are a problem, such as trailer parks, the racetrack and along Robie Street with the food establishments.

Mowbray-Cashen has already done some work with trap-neuter-return along Robie Street, with officials at Mills Mazda trapping about 20 cats in the area to be spayed or neutered and returned.

For more information on the group or to find out ways to help, visit www.facebook.com/colchestercastawaycats or email castawaycatsinfo@gmail.com.

rtetanish@trurodaily.com

Twitter: @TDNRaissa