In five years, a female cat and its offspring can produce a family tree of more than 11,000 cats.
Rim Country Friends of Ferals (RCFF) is one of many organizations nationwide working to bring awareness to the issue of feral cats and help manage the problem.
Earlier this month, Payson Mayor Kenny Evans proclaimed Oct. 16 National Feral Cat Day. RCFF president Lisa Boyle of was on hand to accept a copy of the proclamation.
According to RCFF, there are as many as 80 million feral, stray or free-roaming cats living in the United States. Of the four million delivered to shelters every year, 70 percent are euthanized.
These are tragic statistics when a solution is within reach. That solution is trap, neuter, return or TNR, said Boyle and Sandye Gier, RCFF’s secretary in a press release.
TNR is the only proven and humane way to reduce feral cat populations and keep them at manageable levels. Exterminating cats is not the answer since others quickly move in to the vacated place and the breeding cycle starts again, they said.
And the cost to trap and kill repeatedly is greater than establishing and maintaining a non-breeding colony.
Sterilization also eliminates unwanted mating behavior.
Since 2005, RCFF has sterilized about 3,000 cats. RCFF also provides food for about 400 cats in managed colonies.
The sad truth is that we have feral cats because unaltered domestic cats were abandoned or permitted to breed without restraint, they said.
Some aren’t even feral – just afraid or untrusting, perhaps due to abuse. It is often assumed that cats can hunt and take care of themselves, but they often get domesticated and depend on humans for food, water and shelter. Feral cats do not have easy lives and death can be even harsher, they said.
During the month of October, RCFF is trying to the spread the word on TNR. If you are feeding feral or free-roaming cats and they have not been altered, contact RCFF.
RCFF will provide traps and make all arrangements for surgery at no cost. Additionally, RCFF is looking for volunteers to help with trapping, picking up and delivering food, animal transport and fundraising. Just a little of your time would make a world of difference, they said.
RCFF in a non-profit organization, depending solely on private grants and public donations. Currently, RCFF needs cat food (both canned and dry) and cat litter donations.
To request traps or donate, contact Lisa Boyle at (928) 474-1836 in Payson or Sandye Gier at (928) 476-3944 in Pine-Strawberry.