The People's Tribune

Louisiana Community Cat Coalition Efforts Yielding Positive Results In Controlling Population, Behavior

Volunteer-Based Organization Needs Help, Donations To Continue Work

Part One Of Two-Week Series On Louisiana Community Cat Coalition Efforts

Communities take a variety of approaches to animal control and the population/health of feral, stray and “community” (free-roaming) cats are generally a chief concern and Louisiana is no different.

Last year a group of dedicated volunteers decided to lend the city a helping hand with the creation of the volunteer-based Louisiana Community Cat Coalition (LCCC). Deborah Rue Holland got the idea about four years and it has since evolved into a meaningful movement that is already yielding positive results in certain areas in town.

The group works with vet organizations such as the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine which has brought a mobile unit to town for two-day events in which almost 50 cats are spayed/neutered and treated for rabies at a greatly-reduced price.

Holland and fellow volunteers including Tammi Smith and Morgan Windmiller of Louisiana, and Barbara Simonton of Bowling Green identify areas where there is a large concentration of cats without dedicated owners. The women talk to residents in the area to estimate the number of cats and then go to work trapping the animals beginning on a Sunday night.

The cats/kittens are trapped in a humane manner and immediately collected. The cats remain in the traps with a blanket covering the cage to help create a calm environment overnight. The cats are fed and tended to until the mobile medical unit arrives on Monday morning.

Generally a crew of two licensed veterinarians, seven or eight students and a couple of techs perform surgeries throughout the day. Volunteers help shuttle the cats from a garage on the property of Jerry and Gail Smith to the surgery bays in the mobile unit and back to the garage following procedures. After surgery, each cat is carefully monitored and provided food and water until they are deemed ready to be released from the area which they were trapped the following day.

By working with Mizzou, the group is able to have the cats spayed/neutered and treated for rabies for about $8.50 per cat. The group tries to get about 50 cats for each event. Holland noted it costs $300 for the mobile unit to vitis Louisiana.

“We ask for donations from the people who are trying to take care of the cats, the people feeding them and looking out for them. But generally they are people of limited means who just have good hearts,” Holland pointed out.

She noted that when the group identifies an area they try to make contact with as many of the residents in that area as possible so they know what they are doing with the traps and understand that it is for an incredibly good cause.

“We take care of the cats overnight before surgery and make sure they are fed, watered and have clean newspaper in the cages,” Holland explained. “After surgery we feed them again and add syrup to restore their glucose levels and keep them until they are healthy and ready for release.”

She pointed out that research has shown that if 70 percent of the cat population in an area can be fixed that it provides a more long-term solution than simply using a euthanasia approach.

The People’s Tribune will explore more of the research behind the Trap-Neuter-Return method in the second part of this feature in next week’s edition. The second part of the article will also feature more information about adoption/rescue efforts and the organization of the group. LCCC works with the John Cotton Memorial Shelter and many other organizations. One of the LCCC volunteers is currently working on a new rescue organization called “Diva’s Wish.”

The group collected 24 cats on Sunday night in Louisiana. So on Monday, the work is constant moving cats through surgery until the unit leaves around 4:30 p.m. Then the volunteers went out again Monday night to trap again for Tuesday surgeries.

LCCC has a Facebook page for those interested in more information and can also be reached by emailing LaCatsTNR@gmail.com. Holland said the group is always in need of old flannel sheets, fleece blankets, traps (preferably with doors on both ends) and cash donation. Even more the group needs additional volunteers.Holland pointed out that she is happy to discuss the program with anyone who is interested and will help individuals interested in starting a program in other towns.

“We would love for someone in Bowling Green and other towns to get TNR started there. LCCC would walk them through the whole process.”

Holland also noted that this effort doesn’t take away from local veterinarians since these cats would generally not receive vet care without the organization.

According to the proposal provided to the city by LCCC, “Our coalition is dedicated to helping the homeless cat population in Louisiana through trap, neuter and return practices to stabilize and reduce their population thereby reducing the nuisance behaviors associated with the mating process and providing a cost-effective alternative to killing of healthy cats.”

During surgery the cats ears are “tipped” so they can be easily identified in later trapping efforts or by the city’s animal control officer.

Find much more on the TNR program and the efforts of LCCC in next week’s edition of The People’s Tribune.

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