Feral cat project at end of February

The City of Yuma will conduct its first round of trapping, spaying and neutering feral cats at the end of February.
It will be done with assistance from Denver Metro Cat and Animal Assistance Foundation. Local veterinarians Tom Parks and Callie Kuntz will provide the medical services, along with a third vet.

The trapping dates for the first go-around will be February 27-28. This first effort will focus on the northeast quadrant of Yuma, which seems to have the biggest population of stray cats.
A public meeting about the program was held last Wednesday evening at the Yuma Community and Enrichment Center. Information was provided about the Trap-Neuter-Return program, which has been shown in other communities to humanely reduce the feral cat population over time.
Anna Murrin with Denver Metro Cat said communication with the residents is paramount, as people are more willing to work with the effort after realizing everyone’s goal is to have less cats in the neighborhood.

Anna Murrin with Denver Metro Cat explains the Trap-Neuter-Release program, last week during a meeting at the Yuma Community and Enrichment Center. (Pioneer Photo)

She noted the program is meant to benefit everyone, and is a volunteer so it pays to get people on your side. Murrin pointed out the impact is not immediate, but the feral cat population is reduced over time.
It will be important to also work with caretakers with keeping feeding areas clean, and how to best feed cats.
People are skeptical about being able to trap cats but “we’ve trapped 1,000s of cats,” Murrin said. She added it is a challenge sometimes, but they eventually get them trapped.
“They’re smart, but they’re not smarter than us,” Murrin said.
Neighborhood residents will be informed of the trapping before it takes place, so they can make sure their pet cats are inside while the traps are out. Cat owners also will be offered a special collar to put on their cat to identify them as being a pet if they do remain outside. Murrin also noted pet cats are different than feral cats when caught in a trap.
“It is very important to us to not have a reputation of taking people’s pets,” she said.
Daytime trapping will be done two days in a row. It will begin early in the morning putting out as many traps as needed. The traps are placed on private property, with the landowner’s permission. Murrin said the traps are not watched because the cats will know. “Once we leave, they will come back and try to get the food,” she said.
The traps are lined with newspaper, and either mackerel or tuna is used. Murrin said mackerel works best.
The traps are picked up before dark, and the cats taken to the veterinarian. The cats will stay overnight in the clinic before being released again into the same neighborhood. Parks said a cat can stay an extra night if needed. Each trap is labeled so the cats are returned to the same location.
It is expected more than 20 cats will be caught and doctored during the first go-around. Parks said it will help to identify who the people are in the neighborhood that feed the cats and work with them.
The trap-neuter-spay effort will cycle through the whole Yuma community over the course of one to two years.
If bad weather prevents the trapping to take place February 27-28, it will then be done the following weekend.
“We’re really excited to work with you guys,” Murrin said.