Have you ever seen a stray cat with one of its ears clipped? Well, don’t worry. It’s a GOOD THING! Let me tell you about Hernando County’s fabulous feral cat program.
Ownerless cat groups – also known a “Community Cats” — have been living among humans for thousands of years. While these kitty groups, called “colonies,” are beneficial in keeping down rodent populations, they can spread diseases and become hazardous to human populations if left uncontrolled.
Because these cats are not socialized to humans they aren’t adoptable, even if they are caught. Left in the colony without intervention, these cats will continue to produce litters of even more unwanted cats. So, the TNVR Program was designed as a humane way to control the health and population of these cat colonies while protecting the humans in the communities in which they live.
There is a beautiful member of Hernando County’s fabulous feral cat program living on the grounds at The Humane Society of the Nature Coast. We’ve named her Miss Mae-Mae and, unlike most strays and feral cats, Miss Mae-Mae is affectionate to those she gets to know and will not hesitate to rub up against your leg and let you know she’s ready to receive some attention.
What’s the difference between a pet, stay and a feral cat?
Well, pet and stray cats are socialized to people.
Feral cats are not socialized to people. While they are socialized to their colony members and bonded to each other, they do not have that same relationship with people. Mae-Mae, of course, is a beautiful exception to the general rule, primarily because the staff at the Humane Society of the Nature Coast have taken steps to earn her trust. Never try to pet or pick up a stray cat or any cat you do not know.
However, if you have found a feral cat or a litter of feral kittens, there is something you can do to help.
Hernando County Animal Services (HCAS), in partnership with PetLuv Spay and Neuter Clinic and the Humane Society of the Nature Coast, announced in October 2018 the implementation of a Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return (TNVR) program in Hernando County.
This catch and release program for feral and community cats complies with Florida Statute and has three primary objectives:
- Control the cat population through sterilization.
- Prevent the spread of rabies through vaccination.
- Minimize euthanasia.
When Community Cats are trapped, they are spayed or neutered and vaccinated for rabies by a veterinarian. The veterinarian then clips the cats left ear – a painless procedure performed while the cat is sedated – and the cat is returned to their colony. The ear-tipping gives observers an excellent way to identify and monitor the cats who have received the benefits of the TNR Program from a distance. To date, no other program has proven to be more successful in reducing the number of stray/community cats!
If you’ve found feral cats that do not have a clipped ear and you want to participate in Hernando County’s fabulous feral cat program (TNVR), contact PetLuv at (352) 799-9990 to have the cats sterilized. The cost is $20 per cat, which includes spay/neuter, the administration of flea and internal parasitic medication, ear cleaning and ear tipping. These services are provided by appointment only. Further instructions will be provided by PetLuv at that time. Those who need assistance with the spay/neuter fee can call Compassion Spay/Neuter Inc. at (727) 515-9635 for more information.
Participants may rent traps at HCAS, located at 19450 Oliver Street in Brooksville. The standard rental fee is $50 with $25 refunded upon return of the trap. For more information about Hernando County’s fabulous feral cat program, contact HCAS Manager James Terry at (352) 754-5893.