At least 30 stray cats live in a colony in Lincoln Park, local animal activists say, and scores of others roam the city. They pose a problem because they fight with other cats, get sick, and sometimes produce more wild cats. A feral cat that is disturbing the neighborhood may be picked up by animal control and unfortunately euthanized at a shelter.
Companion Animal Trust, Inc., a Jersey City-based non-profit animal welfare organization, has taken a cue from a program in New York City and began instituting a new program to combat what it calls a “feral cat crisis” in Jersey City.
The Neighborhood Feral Cat Initiative will train volunteers in the community to catch and release the cats. Training workshops are scheduled for the final Saturday of each month, starting on March 28 from 12 to 3 p.m. in Jersey City (location to be determined), through Nov. 28.
Trainees will learn the Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) method in which the cat is humanely trapped and then transported to a vet to be spayed or neutered, ear tipped, and vaccinated for rabies.
Then the cat is released back to its original outdoor location and managed by a caregiver.
Is this your cat?
In fact, last week, the group trapped 21 cats in the Lincoln Park County Park Department maintenance compound. A whopping 14 were brought to the local shelter because they were believed to be tame – and some may have even been lost pets who were dumped there.
The remaining cats were spayed and neutered and returned.
“County officials have been extremely supportive of what we are doing, as is [Councilman] Steve Fulop’s office, and I expect we will go back in April and trap again,” said Carol McNichol, the president of Companion Animal Trust. “There is a colony of about 30 to 40 more cats there. This location is adjacent to where Jersey City Animal Control officers [allegedly] dumped the two cats on Friday, Feb. 27, and I suspect some or most of the 14 tame cats could also be cats dumped by Animal Control.”
Ten months in the making
McNichol said TNR will help to prevent what is inevitably a tragic end for most feral cats that are captured and euthanized.
McNichol said this was an idea that formed in the last 10 months, and she modeled it after a similar feral cat initiative being done by the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals.
TNR training workshops start March 28 in Jersey City.
“We want to make this Initiative a one-stop-shop resource to anyone in the community who wants to make a difference,” McNichol said. “The reality is that over 70 percent of cats taken to shelters are euthanized and TNR will ebb that tide over the long term.”
Positives and negatives
McNichol said the workshops will teach all the steps in setting up a managed cat colony, including establishing good community relations, feeding, building and placing shelters, arranging vet care, safely handling feral cats, and trapping.
Also, all workshop attendees will become TNR certified, and Hudson County residents will gain access to low cost spay/neuter services and trap rentals.
The group notes that fewer cats and kittens will be brought to overburdened shelters, resulting in reduced costs associated with housing and euthanasia.
However, TNR is considered controversial by some animal groups such as the Wildlife Society. They believe the TNR method only allows cats to continue to prey on birds and other wildlife.
On the other hand, Trap-Neuter-Return is endorsed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the Humane Society of the United States, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, and the New Jersey Animal Rights Alliance.
For further information about the workshops, call (201) 884-9649 or e-mail: email@example.com. Also, visit companionanimaltrust.petfinder.com. Leave a voicemail and someone will call you back. Volunteers and TNR coaches are needed, so if you are interested in helping, please call.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.