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December 5, 2012

Program to reduce Dixie Plaza’s cat population continues

Donations needed for low-cost spaying and neutering

RICHMOND — The Humane Society, Animal League for Life of Madison County will be working this weekend to reduce the future population of a large feral cat colony at a Richmond mobile home park.

The second phase of the Dixie Plaza Mobile Home Park program will start this weekend with the trapping up to 50 cats who will be neutered or spayed Monday, according to organizer Jamie Bratcher.

While the first phase of the project was funded by a grant, the second phase’s budget is being determined by donations. As of Tuesday, about 40 percent of the $1,000 needed had been raised, Bratcher said.  

The program received a $1,000 community impact award from Alley Cats Allies this year by submitting a 500-word essay about how the money would be used at Dixie Plaza. Alley Cats Allies is a national organization that supports trap, neuter and return as a humane method of controlling feral cat populations.

“Dixie Plaza is by far the most populated area,” Bratcher said.

The mobile home park is behind Kroger, and many of the feral cats can been seen wandering near Walmart, Lowe’s and the recycling center as well as crossing nearby busy roads.

A manager at the park estimated there were around 100 outside cats there, but Bratcher said it appears the number is closer to 150.

“The grant itself was for (spaying or neutering) 55 cats and medical expenses because some of the cats were sick,” Bratcher said.

The cats, once spayed or neutered, also receive a rabies vaccination and their ears are tipped to indicate they’ve been sterilized.

Volunteers completed Phase 1 in October, but it is crucial that the project continues until all cats there are spayed or neutered.

“It’s important when you start a location to complete it,” Bratcher said. If just one cat is left to reproduce “you have to start all over again,” she added.

While some of the cats encountered in October were friendly, others were not.

“You can’t find homes for 75 to 100 cats,” she noted.

Several residents at Dixie Plaza are feeding the cats, which is important for the project as well. Feeding the animals does not attract more to the area, Bratcher said.

“Cats are territorial,” Bratcher said. “The feral cats will keep others out.”

Eventually, the cat population will decline due to natural causes, she said.

The local TNR program started in 2007, and to date 1,061 feral cats have been neutered or spayed, according to Bratcher. In 2012, the biggest year yet, 287 cats have been sterilized.

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