Now’s The Time: Get Help With Stray Or Feral Cats

Rebecca Sonniksen 

Kitten season will be upon us soon and now is the time to spay/neuter those feral/stray cats you have been so kindly caring for over the winter. In a matter of months those few cats will quickly multiply. The average cat can become pregnant with a litter of 3–5 kittens. Given she can have 2– 3 litters a year and those kittens reach puberty around 6 months the reproduction cycle continues at an alarming rate.

(Left) Abandoned at a truck stop, Lulu was rescued and brought to CGCR where she given the attention she needed before being adopted.

There are many things than can start a feral cat colony – caring neighbors feeding stray cats; pet owners who move and abandon cats; or unaltered owned cats becoming lost from their homes. When unmanaged those cats will breed uncontrollably. The result is unwanted kittens which often die young or live miserable lives. 

So how do you help these homeless cats?  If you find a cat injured, homeless, or feral, there are no publicly funded agencies on either side of the Columbia River to come to the rescue; but thanks to a handful of concerned individuals there is help. 

The Columbia Gorge Cat Rescue (CGCR), founded in 2006 by a group of residents, is one such organization. CGCR operates out of a clinic in the Lyle Community Center (not to be confused with the Lions Community Center, located 2 blocks away). 

Their target area includes Hood River County and northern Wasco County in Oregon, part of Skamania County and western Klickitat County in Washington.  Since 2013 CGCR has fixed more than 5000 cats. In 2019 it spay/neutered over 600 and adopted over 300. 

A clinic is held once a week and appointments are necessary. To schedule an appointment go https://www.gorgecat.org/spay-neuter-clinic to fill out an online spay/neuter appointment form. The clinic is only for unowned stray and feral cats. On a typical clinic day, there are usually 15–20 cats spayed/neutered but sometimes there are as many as 60 cats, which requires a weekend. 

Pawsitivity is a similar organization. Founded in 2018 by High Prairie resident Elke Neubauer and Hood River resident Stina Larson, it targets the Centerville and Goldendale communities. It is part of the Rowena Wildlife organization but uses the Feral Cat Coalition in Portland twice monthly for spay/neutering services. To contact Elke call or text 509-261-0689.

The mission of both these non-profit all-volunteer grass roots organizations is to provide services to feral and abandoned cats. Cats are vaccinated, treated for parasites, and spayed or neutered. The cats and kittens that are adoptable are often placed in foster homes where, thanks to the kindness of volunteers, they are socialized in preparation for their new “forever” homes. These services are donation-based, so these homeless cats are treated regardless of income. Donations are not only appreciated  but necessary to sustain their efforts. 

Trapping is often necessary to catch feral cats. Both organizations help by lending out humane live traps and will demonstrate the technique. Pawsitivity does it’s own trapping and drove over 6600 miles picking up traps and cats. This past year they spay/neutered 240 cats and kittens and found homes for over 70. 

Feral cats have their ears tipped, which marks them as having been spayed or neutered. The adult cats are typically returned to their caregivers or go to barns where they will be provided with food and shelter. 

People often ask: can’t you just take them away? The question is, where? Thousands of tame cats are put to sleep in shelters and since feral cats cannot be handled, they have no chance of survival in the shelter. As Animal Control shelters know, eliminating the cats doesn’t eliminate the problem. 

The only proven method to control the population is TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release). Grounded in science, TNR stops the breeding cycle of cats and therefore improves their lives while preventing reproduction. This program has been shown to be the most compassionate approach/solution to feral and stray cat overpopulation. Once all cats in a colony are spayed/neutered and released, the number will start to dwindle by natural attrition. This doesn’t happen overnight but in time there will be no more unwanted kittens, no more fighting and no more spraying by the males. 

Act now to prevent needless suffering and cruelty for these abandoned cats. Help give them a second chance at a loving and caring home and create a more compassionate community. Contact CGCR at  https://www.gorgecat.org/spay-neuter-clinic, or call or text Elke at 509 261-0689.

(Above) Rescued by Pawsitivity from a hoarding site. Jack, very shy and missing an eye, depended on his friend, Benjamin. They found a wonderful home together.

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